Bill to end tribal worker union rights fails in Senate

Labor had a rare win in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate April 16. A bill to strip Indian casino workers of their federally protected right to unionize couldn’t get the 60 votes needed in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and cut off debate.

The vote was 55-41, largely along party lines, with Republicans voting to cut off debate in order to allow the bill to pass. But there were exceptions: Republican Rob Portman (R-OH) voted with the Democrats, and seven Democrats voted with the Republicans: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Mark Warner (D-VA). Four others were absent for the vote.

The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act passed the House by 239-173 on Jan. 10. Oregon Democrat Kurt Schrader voted for it. The bill would end federal protection of the union rights of an estimated 600,000 workers in tribe-owned commercial enterprises. It’s unclear if the Senate will try again to pass the bill.

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