THE “RIGHT TO WORK” FIGHT OF 1986

by John F. Greenfield, Attorney at Law

In 1986, Idaho adopted a “ right to work “ law. The Idaho Legislature accomplished this in 1985 in a statute that overcame a veto of Gov. John V. Evans that same year. The Idaho labor movement responded by bringing a statutory referendum in 1986. This remarkable event eventually resulted in a statewide electoral verdict in 1986.

The election provided a razor-thin affirmation of the right-to-work law in that general election. During the preceding campaign, state and national labor authorities were instrumental in forming a committee pledged to defeat the right-to-work law by referendum in the coming election.

One of my greatest moments was to have been selected by labor authorities to serve on a three-man committee directing Idaho labor’s efforts in this regard. I served on this committee in 1986 with former state senator (and later president of the Idaho AFL-CIO) Robert Kinghorn of Pocatello, and former Idaho Lt. Gov. Bill Murphy of Wallace. All three of us were proud to nearly win the election after starting more than 20 points behind just a few months before the election.