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Cole Supports Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act

November 17, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015. This legislation reaffirms the exemption of tribal governments from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), upholds tribal sovereignty and protects self-governance on tribal lands. 

When Congress passed NLRA in 1935, it excluded all federal, state and local governments from regulation—an exemption that was also extended to tribal governments. In 2004, however, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that tribal governments were no longer subject to the same exemption and commercial activity could be regulated.  

“Like federal, state and local governments, tribal governments should not be subject to the National Labor Relations Act,” said Cole. “In keeping with 69 years of past precedent, I am pleased that the House supported legislation to right the misguided policy that has threatened tribal sovereignty. The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act not only restores authority previously afforded to tribes, but it symbolizes a United States that respects the ability and right of tribes to govern effectively on their own lands.”   

Cole managed the combined rule for H.R. 511 and H.R. 1737 on the House floor. Video of his opening remarks is available here. Excerpt from his opening remarks is below:

“Practically every county and city in this country has a golf course. Most states have a lottery. The National Park Service operates hotels. Many cities operate convention centers. All of these activities are not regulated under the NLRA. It should be the same with tribes.”

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