December 1, 2015
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
The U.S. House passed a bill Nov. 17 that would exempt Indian tribes from federal labor laws, and overturn a 2004 National Labor Relations Board ruling that giving casino workers collective-bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act didn’t violate tribal sovereignty.
If it becomes law, however, it is not expected to have much of an effect on workers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, which is owned by the Mashantucket Pequots—who recognized United Auto Workers Local 2121 under tribal law as representing table-games dealers there. “At Foxwoods, there’s going to be a union regardless of whether this becomes law,” said Julie Kushner, director of UAW Region 9A.
The union there is very strong and embedded.” But the more than 600,000 workers in tribal gaming operations elsewhere might not be so fortunate. “It’s not as if Mashantucket Pequot law exists anywhere else,” Kushner said. “If this bill becomes law, many, many workers will lose the right to union representation.”. Read more