Gov. Wolf’s Executive Order Hurts Home Health Care Recipients

Our friends at the Fairness Center (TFC) filed a lawsuit this week defending against stealth unionization of homecare workers across Pennsylvania. In their lawsuit, TFC argues Gov. Wolf’s executive order to unionize homecare workers violates both Pennsylvania’s Constitution and the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act.

Gov. Rendell employed this same tactic in the waning days of his administration, but he abandoned the union friendly move after a court challenge.

The Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) also filed a separate lawsuit in conjunction with United Cerebral Palsy of Pennsylvania to prevent Gov. Wolf’s power grab from moving forward. As the PHA points out in their filing statement, the order allows the SEIU to go door-to-door recruiting homecare workers to join the union.

While the legal ramifications of this move are troubling, the impact it could have on the unique relationship between many homecare workers and recipients is even more distressing, threatening relationships like the one Dave Smith and Don Lambrecht share.

Dave, whose muscular dystrophy has left him wheelchair-bound, and Don, Dave’s homecare provider of 25 years, have become close friends, seeing each other as family rather than as an employer and employee.

But Wolf’s order allows the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to step between the two men. Even though Don would not be required to pay dues, he would still be forced to accept representation, essentially forcing him to collectively bargain against Dave. The same situation applies to tens of thousands of other homecare workers, many of whom care for their own elderly parents or disabled children.

Dave sees Wolf’s effort as an unwelcome and unnecessary invasion, saying, “Don doesn’t need to pay part of his income to a group for something that he’s been able to do for himself all these years.”

Dave’s ability to have control over his own care may be in jeopardy, too.

Don, a former union member himself, says unions aren’t “practical” in this situation and that there’s just one reason for the unionization push, “Money—union dues.”

For a governor touting transparency and a “government that works,” this under-the-radar gift to one of his largest campaign donors is particularly disturbing. This, along with Wolf’s secret contract negotiations with SEIU and 15 other public unions, is another indication that his “gift ban” is all bark and no bite.