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In remembrance of Gary Glenn, the father of Right to Work in Idaho 

In remembrance of Gary Glenn, the father of Right to Work in Idaho 

Wayne Hoffman
July 29, 2023
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July 29, 2023

Idahoans have the freedom to get jobs without having to be union members, something not true everywhere and a fact for which we owe thanks to Gary Glenn, who died Thursday at age 65. Gary can rightfully be called the father of Idaho's Right to Work law.

More than 40 years ago, Right to Work passage in Idaho was an uncertain and daunting task with a long, failed history. It came within a whisker of clearing the Legislature in 1977, with different versions making it through the House and Senate but finding no consensus in a conference committee. 

But even if it had passed, Gov. John Evans, a Democrat who voted against Right to Work in the 1950s as a state senator, remained in the way. He kept his promise to veto any worker freedom bill that made it to his desk. 

Enter Gary, still in college in 1981 and named executive director of the Idaho Freedom to Work Committee. Gary secured a veto-proof majority in the Legislature to pass the law and then overcame a union-backed referendum on the measure for the 1986 general election. For the battle, Gary enlisted the help of actor Charlton Heston. 

The success prompted both Gary and Heston to be named co-recipients of the "Freedom Fighter of the Year" award by the Center for the Study of Market Alternatives, a forerunner of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. 

Gary later served as executive vice president of the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association, and he served two terms as an Ada County Commissioner. 

In 1998, the Mackinac Center in Michigan recruited him to work on a school choice tax credit, and in 1999, he was hired as president of the American Family Association of Michigan. In 2004, he won passage of a statewide referendum defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

In 2011, he took his experience passing Right to Work in Idaho to Michigan and secured the law's passage there. Later, Gary served as a Michigan state representative. 

Since the early days of the Freedom Foundation, Gary was always kind enough to offer up the names of people he thought might help achieve our mission. He had the idea of having the Freedom Foundation co-host a 25th-anniversary celebration of Right to Work in 2011. And whenever I needed a nudge of inspiration, he'd recount how he convinced a Hollywood actor, Heston, to make Right to Work in Idaho a priority. Over the years, Gary offered tons of encouragement and advice on education choice and other IFF efforts.

I last saw Gary about a year ago as he and his wife Annette visited friends in Boise, saying goodbye, anticipating the finality of his battle with cancer. Yet Gary remained upbeat. And so he seemed even last month, as we last spoke by phone, with me believing that Gary would beat the odds again, as he so often had done. 

Few people have inspired me to deliver on conservative causes as Gary. It was an honor to have known him and to carry on his legacy of advancing freedom in Idaho. 

Idaho Freedom Foundation
802 W. Bannock Street, Suite 405, Boise, Idaho 83702
p 208.258.2280 | e [email protected]
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