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Federal appeals court upholds ruling subjecting tribal casinos to federal labor law

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia [official website] Friday upheld [opinion, PDF] a 2004 ruling [text, PDF] that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) [official website] had jurisdiction over tribunal businesses including casinos, placing the tribes under the National Labor Relations Act [text], which bars unfair labor practices and gives workers the right to organize and bargain with employers. The opinion states that "tribal sovereignty in American law... recognizes the independence of [Indian communities] as regards [to] internal affairs... [giving] latitude to maintain traditional customs and practices [but does not confer] absolute autonomy [and] permit a tribe to operate in a commercial capacity without legal constraint."

Lawyers for the San Manuel tribe [tribe website] argued [JURIST report] before the court in November that tribal sovereignty exempted tribal casinos from federal labor laws. NLRB attorneys say they are trying to protect the rights of more than 250,000 casino workers across the country's 400 plus tribal casinos. Unions have stated that absent the protection of federal labor regulations, they doubt unions will be able to guarantee fair labor practices and bargaining power for casino workers. AP has more.

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