In an historic vote, the dealers at Foxwoods Resort Casino voted 1,289 to 852 to be represented by the United Auto Workers. It is believed to be the first time an election has been held by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on an Indian reservation. The Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which owns Foxwoods, plans to file objections, challenging the NLRB’s jurisdiction over the election. Prior to 2004, the NLRB had declined to assert jurisdiction over casinos operated by Indian tribes on tribal land. Although there had been several successful organizing drives at tribal casinos, they were accomplished on a voluntary basis or through compacts negotiated with the tribes by the states.

In March 2004, however, the NLRB held that it had jurisdiction over Indian casinos on tribal land. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld that decision, finding that the application of federal labor law to the tribal casino did not impair tribal sovereignty and is permissible under the statute. The NLRB’s Region 7 also found the NLRB has jurisdiction over and directed an election for housekeepers at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The United Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 486, is seeking to represent the housekeepers.