Rep. McCollum responds to anti-sovereignty attack

29 June 2015

Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) has issued a statement responding to what she described as “insulting” testimony offered at a recent Congressional hearing on HR 511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015. The proposed legislation would reaffirm tribal exemption from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), putting tribal employers on the same footing as federal, state and local government employers. The NLRA applies to most private sector companies, but is not applicable to federal, state and local governments, employers who employ only agricultural workers, and airline and railroad employers subject to the Railway Labor Act.

At a hearing on the bill, one witness attacked tribal governments as “dictatorships.” Rep. McCollum reacted strongly to that characterization. Here is the full text of her statement:

“As a Democrat who strongly supports workers rights and Minnesota’s eleven tribal Nations, I found it profoundly disturbing and disappointing that a witness at today’s Education and Workforce hearing compared tribal governments to a “dictatorship,” not once but twice in his written testimony. This is an insult to Indian Country that has no place in a serious policy debate.

“Federally recognized tribal Nations have a government-to­-government relationship with the federal government. Tribal governments deserve to be treated no different than any state and local unit of government and their enterprises. Congress must continue to work to ensure that tribal sovereignty and self-­governance are respected and strengthened to the benefit of our Native American brothers and sisters.

“Just like state and local governments, Congress expects tribal governments and their elected leaders to advocate strongly for their rights, advance the interests of their citizens, and respect the rights of all Americans.”

Minnesota tribal leaders praised McCollum’s comments and offered their thanks for her support of HR 511.