Tribal Disruption and Labor Relations
17 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2014 Last revised: 2 Oct 2017
Date Written: February 26, 2014
In recent years, Indian tribes have begun to assert treaty rights to govern labor relations within the reservation, most notably in Indian gaming operations. The National Labor Relations Board and several national labor unions have asserted, with a large degree of success, that the National Labor Relations Act governs labor relations in tribal casinos.
This paper addresses several aspects of the tribal-federal-labor relationship through the lens of tribal disruption theory. Professor Wenona Singel has argued, drawing from institutional economics theory, that labor relations law and policy is static, with unions and the NLRB preferring to rely upon Great Depression-era federal law to decide labor disputes arising in Indian country – not because federal law is substantively preferable to tribal law, but because it is known and predictable. These actors reject tribal labor relations legal regimes despite the possibility that tribal law may be substantively preferable to all parties.
Tribal disruption theory offers an alternative view of how to resolve these ongoing labor disputes, one preferable to the uncertain and high stakes litigation.
This paper is prepared for discussion at the 2014 UCLA Race, Labor, and the Law Conference.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation