Feb 2008 Ballot: Indian Tribes Fight Employee Rights (+)
by: Elliott Petty
Mon Nov 12, 2007 at 16:34:46 PM PST
(This is going to be a major battle and February is just a few months away, so this is a good rundown of what's at stake. Full disclosure: I have done some video work for UNITE HERE. - promoted by David Dayen)
If you don't follow the daily happenings in Sacramento, you can easily be confused about four ballot initiatives slated for the February 5th Presidential Primary Elections. In four separate propositions, voters will be asked to approve state gaming compacts with four individual tribes looking to expand their casino fortunes. If approved, worker rights will continue to be non-existent at the Las Vegas-styled resorts.
Elliott Petty :: Feb 2008 Ballot: Indian Tribes Fight Employee Rights
At issue is the lack of basic worker rights that were passed into the California constitution generations ago, but don't apply at Indian gaming casinos and hotel resorts because of their official sovereignty. California penal code doesn't apply in France, nor does it apply at Pechanga's resort just outside of Palm Springs.
Thus, Indian tribes and the American companies managing their properties don't have to honor anti-discrimination, sexual harassment or workers' compensation laws. Imagine that.
This is only complicated by the fact that nearly 99 percent of employees and management of these resorts are non-Indian, California citizens.
Seems unusual, but since the tribes are raking in a reported $7 billion a year in revenue with residuals going to tribe members in the form of direct cash payments, college scholarships and the like, members don't exactly need to work there.
But the Californian citizenry who make up almost their entire workforce are afforded no basic civil rights on the job.
Of course, their jobs wouldn't exist if the State of California didn't reach gaming compacts with specific tribes which allow them to operate the gambling cash cows in return for a share of the revenues.