Secret Laws Don’t Protect Isleta Casino Employees

Governor Eddie Paul Torres Reads Statement to Senate Committee

Lawyers drafted a statement for Governor Eddie Paul Torres to read to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at yesterday’s (4/29/15) hearing on the Tribal Sovereignty Act of 2015. If enacted, this law would expressly exclude tribal casinos from complying with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

To read the statement, click: Prepared Statement for Governor Torres

In the statement, Torres makes reference to a law that the Isleta Tribal Council enacted in 2010 entitled, Labor & Employment Relations Ord. TCR #2010-096.  This law states:

“Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, to join, or assist employee organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing. . . .” Article V, Section 1.

This means under Isleta Tribal law, employees have a right to form a union. So, Governor Torres and his lawyers are trying to convince Senators that there’s no need for the federal law (the NLRA) to apply to tribal casinos because the Tribal Council already enacted its own law that protects employees.

But, Governor Torres and his lawyers fail to tell the Senators that our employees have no idea that the Tribal Council enacted a Tribal Labor and Employment Relations Ordinance.

Why don’t employees know about the law?

Because our Tribal Council and Governor fail to give the community notice of the laws that they enact. In other words, they fail to publicize their laws.

So, if employees don’t know about the law, then it’s impossible for them to try to benefit from the ordinance.

If Tribal Officials were concerned about the rights of employees on the rez, then the Tribal Council would have properly notified tribal employees of the laws that they have enacted.

Further, the Isleta Resort and Casino, which is controlled by the Tribal Council also refuses to allow employees to have a copy of the personnel policies and procedures handbook. So, how is it possible for those employees to study and know the policies that they are expected to honor and obey?

The next time you see the Casino’s Acting CEO Maria Otero, ask her for a copy of the personnel policies and procedures handbook. Or, ask one of our Council Members, Governor Torres or one of his lieutenants  to give you a copy of the Casino’s personnel policies and procedures handbook. And, you will discover for yourself how they actually treat Casino employees. 

Finally, Governor Torres and his lawyers fail to tell the Senators that the Tribal Council’s Labor and Employment Relations Ordinance is designed to severely limit the rights of employees. It also limits the recourse and remedies available to employees for any violations committed by the Casino’s management.

In Other News. . . .

The Isleta Tribal Council has authorized the Tribe to pay for Governor Eddie Paul Torres and Council President Frank Lujan to travel to Spain to attend an event concerning the Blue Nun.

The Isleta Tribal Council was angered that the Isleta Business Corporation named a small restaurant after a character from a cable t.v. series called “Breaking Bad.” Essentially, the Council felt that the name glorified drug use. The IBC agreed to change the name.

The Isleta Tribal Council rejected a proposal from the Isleta Police Department to maintain drug detection dogs.

The Isleta Casino and Resort has halted further plans to build a parking structure for the Casino.

Council Members are becoming irritated that Council Secretary Barbara Sanchez is now controlling Council President Frank Lujan.  “Frank is under her thumb. . . .” The Council member complained that President Lujan is allowing her to set the agendas. 

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What are your thoughts?