Noem bill would ban national labor board from tribal businessesCongresswoman says she is defending tribal sovereignty, halting bureaucracy and "meddling."
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., introduced legislation Thursday to clarify that the National Labor Relations Board does not have jurisdiction over tribally owned businesses on reservation land as a matter tribal sovereignty.
In 2004 the National Labor Relations Board, which is the federal agency of the U.S. government charged with conducting elections for labor union representation and other labor-related duties, determined that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) applies to activities on reservation lands. This bill would reverse that decision. The legislation stands to defend tribal sovereignty and promote economic opportunities on reservations lands by eliminating ambiguity in existing federal law.
“As a matter of sovereignty, the tribes don’t need big labor meddling in their affairs,” said Rep. Noem. “By removing this ambiguity in the law we can promote economic development on tribal land because businesses, large and small, need more certainty before they can grow.”
The 2004 ruling by the Board is of great concern to tribes, as it is a threat to the foundation of Indian law and the principle of tribal sovereignty. This bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to provide that any business, owned and operated by an Indian tribe on Indian lands, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the NLRA, and thus the NLRB would not have administration and enforcement powers on reservation land for tribally owned businesses.
Rep. Noem’s bill will be cosponsored by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif.