For immediate release
September 4, 2015
UNITE HERE Leader: “McCollum should know better”
UNITE HERE, a labor union of 275,000 workers across America including 6,000 in Minnesota, is launching an ad campaign highlighting Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s (D-MN) support of H.R. 511, a Republican-introduced bill that seeks to eliminate federal labor rights for American citizens working for businesses owned by Indian tribes (link to ad). The ads will start running over Labor Day weekend.
In the 2014 election cycle, Betty McCollum received over $120,000 in contributions from Indian tribes.
“On the eve of Labor Day, it is ironic that Congresswoman McCollum has taken a position to undermine the very fabric of labor protections for hard-working Americans,” said D. Taylor, President of UNITE HERE. “American workers are already faced with income inequality, rising health care costs and foreign competition. Now McCollum wants to make it even more difficult for working Americans in Minnesota and elsewhere to earn a decent living if they happen to work for a business owned by a Native American tribe.”
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 511 sometime in September. H.R. 511 would exempt all businesses owned and operated by Indian nations from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This would mean that all Americans working for Native American enterprises would lose their U.S. rights under the NLRA, including “full freedom of association” and “self-organization” without “discrimination.” Businesses, like Indian-owned casinos, have workforces and customers that are almost entirely non-Native American.
Minnesota UNITE HERE Local 17 Political Director Wade Luneburg added, “This is a much bigger issue than just for the workers here in Minnesota who work in tribal businesses. This law would strip important rights of workers across the country. We have worked with and supported Betty in the past and are incredibly shocked and disappointed in her support of this legislation.”
Over the last 30 years, as Native American enterprises have entered the stream of interstate commerce, a number of federal laws protecting the workplace have been applied to Native American businesses: ERISA, OSHA, FLSA, and NLRA. The rights protected under the NLRA should not be treated any differently than these other important laws protecting American workers.
“Under the guise of protecting the rights of Native Americans, whom we all respect, McCollum is setting back the rights of all Americans, native and non-native alike. McCollum should know better, ” concluded Taylor.
Click below to listen to the ad. Learn more at www.noonebuysbetty.org.
UNITE HERE represents 270,000 women and men across North America who work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries. Members of UNITE HERE are building a movement to empower immigrants and all workers across North America to achieve greater equality and opportunity. Learn more at www.unitehere.org.