National Right to Work Honors Thomas Pappas

Member’s Charitable Bequest Continues to Advance Cherished Cause

Thomas Pappas
Thomas’s bequest to the Committee speaks volumes about his devotion to the Right to Work cause.

National Right to Work Committee members have long fought in the front lines in the battle to end forced unionism and the corruption that comes with it.

Some have even left a special and very lasting legacy.

One such member is Thomas Pappas. Thomas was born in San Marcos, Texas, in 1929. 

As a young man, he was a Marine who served in the Korean conflict.

He later obtained a degree in Industrial Arts from Southwest Texas State Teachers College, and eventually landed a job with Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he worked for 30 years until his retirement.

He was an avid dog lover and trainer, and had a passion for hot rods.

As a young man, Thomas was once forced to join a union and even experienced crossing a picket line during an illegal “wildcat” strike that occurred while he was working for General Mills in Minnesota. 

Early Encounter With Forced Unionism Became Impetus to Join Committee 

That early encounter with forced unionism became the impetus for him to join the Committee in 1983.

For 37 years, Thomas banded together with other Committee members to beat back Big Labor power grabs like the so-called Labor Law “Reform” Bill, the Common Situs Picketing Bill, Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Pushbutton Strike Bill, and President Barack Obama’s “card-check” forced unionism.

He was there fighting to help pass state Right to Work laws in Idaho, Oklahoma, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Kentucky. 

He was dedicated to the passage of a national Right to Work law and wholeheartedly supported the Committee’s “block and tackle” method of political activism.

Several Right to Work associates were fortunate to get to know Thomas personally over the years.

He first agreed to meet with Committee staffers in 2009 to discuss the details of the Committee’s legislative program for that year.

Subsequently, he opened his door almost every year to Committee staffers who were in town.

He even took the time to meet with a senior Committee staffer two months before his passing. Recalling this meeting,  the staffer observed:

“Thomas had so many stories that I had trouble recalling all the details after leaving the meeting. He was an interesting guy.”

He had hoped to have the opportunity of meeting with Thomas again. Sadly, this was not to be. Thomas passed away last November 30, at the age of 91.

‘There Would Be No’ Right to Work Committee ‘Without People Like Thomas Pappas’   

In fight after fight, Thomas would tirelessly sign Committee petitions, send Actiongrams, make phone calls on the Committee’s behalf, and contribute his hard-earned money to its work.

Thomas may not have been what some organizations consider a “major donor,” but over the years he was a consistent giver who was fiercely dedicated to the Right to Work cause and always ready to help in the fight to end compulsory unionism.

“There would be no National Right to Work Committee without people like Thomas Pappas,” said Committee President Mark Mix.

It turns out Thomas saved his greatest impact on the cause he dearly believed in for the end.

Recently, the Committee received a phone call from Thomas’s trustee, who informed staffers that Thomas had left a bequest to the Committee. 

It turned out to be a substantial gift, one that speaks volumes about his legacy to the Right to Work cause and his love of freedom.

Members who are interested in supporting the National Right to Work Committee with a bequest may contact Matthew Leen at 703-321-9820, or email him at  Also, see Other Ways to Give at

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. You can go here to access previous newsletter posts.

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