Role of National Right to Work in the Anti-Union Network
National Right to Work is the country’s oldest organization dedicated solely to destroying unions. Its network consists of four organizations that share leadership,
offices, resources and staff, all with the common goal of undermining
workers’ freedom of association. To carry out this mission, the
National Right to Work Committee employs over 200 staff to lobby,
fundraise, distribute propaganda, and interfere with workers’ union
organizing efforts, and the National Right to Work Legal Defense
Foundation employs nearly 50 staff for its litigation efforts.1
While the organization has doggedly pursued an anti-union agenda for
a half century, its public profile has recently been eclipsed by the
big-budget anti-union front group the Center for Union Facts.
Does National Right to Work have anything to do with right-to-work laws?
When anti-union ideologues lost an effort to enact a national law
weakening unions, they created the National Right to Work Committee in
1955 to pass such laws at the state level. The group’s single-minded
focus of doing away with unions was as unambiguous then, as it is
today, however the name it shares with the very legislation it was
created to pass, is purposely confusing. For more background on this
deceptively titled legislation, click here.
What is the True Agenda Behind National Right to Work?
Does National Right to Work advocate on behalf of workers?
The group claims to be a “worker advocate.”2
But the organization doesn’t concern itself with improving workers’ job
conditions, benefits, or treatment. An examination of press releases
issued by the National Right to Work Foundation between 2003 and 2005
reveals there was no discussion by the group of improving benefits for
workers, better working conditions, or workplace dignity; and only one
reference to increasing wages. There were, however, 267 negative
references to unions.
"The terrorist could then use his influence with the union
to make it easier for a terrorist colleague to board a plane or to get
a bomb through baggage screening."
- National Right to Work's warning that an airport screeners’ union could be infiltrated by terrorists32
If National Right to Work is really advocating for workers, why is does it refuse to disclose its donors?
Whose interests are they really fighting for? The funding trail that exists points to anti-union businesses:3
- A lawsuit revealed that 84 percent of the National Right to Work
Committee’s 1973 budget was funded by corporations, and other employers.4
- Early known donors include:
- Wofford Camp who served on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce committee and
was a California grower who fought efforts by farm workers to organize
- Roger Milliken, former president of Milliken & Company, who
shut down one of his southern textile plants as retaliation against his
employees’ vote to form a union.6
- The Foundation bragged that “over 350 Presidents and Chairmen of
the Board listed in Dun & Bradstreet’s Directory of Million Dollar
Corporations,” were associated with it.7
- Anti-union companies indirectly fund National Right to Work through
foundations. The network has received major grants from the Walton
Family Foundation (funded with profits from Wal-Mart), Castle Rock
Foundation (funded with profits from Coors beer), and Publix Super
The group’s original leadership also suggests an anti-union agenda shaped by the interest of employers.
For instance, the Committee’s first chairman of the board was Edwin
Dillard, president of Old Dominion Box Company, who vehemently fought
his workers’ efforts to organize his company’s plants in the South.9 Fred Hartley, the Committee’s first president, was the former Congressman who sponsored the Taft-Hartley Act amending the National Labor Relations Act to expand employers’ rights, not workers.
Learn more about who's behind right to work.