Rian Van Leuven remembers signing his first union card in 1979. He'd worked at the Potlatch Corp. paper mill in Lewiston for one month. He didn't think much about it at the time, but he signed the card, joining United Steelworkers Local 608.

Van Leuven has thought about few things more than unions since. He worked 33 years in various union leadership positions before becoming president of the Idaho AFL-CIO in 2012. The AFL-CIO is an umbrella organization representing many of the unions in the nation.
Union membership in Idaho began declining in the mid-1980s with the passage of Right to Work. Idaho became the 20th state to outlaw union shops, which required all workers to pay dues as a condition of employment. That was the case at the mill where Van Leuven started his career.

Voters affirmed the law, 54 percent to 46 percent, after Democratic Gov. John Evans' veto. Unions never recovered, said Martin Orr, chairman of the Boise State University Department of Sociology.

Read more here: In Idaho, unions try 'to get our stick back' | Local News | Idahostatesman.com