Judge Halts Wolf Order Organizing Home Care Workers

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

For Immediate Release
The Fairness Center
Contact: Cindy Hamill
[email protected]

Judge Halts Wolf Order Organizing Home Care Workers
Preliminary Injunction Protects Home Care Workers & Disabled From Union Interference

April 23, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—After a hearing late Wednesday afternoon, a Commonwealth Court judge issued a preliminary injunction stopping full enforcement of Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive order 2015-05 affecting home care attendants.

Ballots for a unionization drive asking home care workers like Don Lambrecht to join the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania—a "joint effort" of public unions the SEIU and AFSCME—will be counted. However, the union will be unable to come to terms with the state, and the state cannot aid in collecting union dues until the full court can address the legality of Wolf’s executive order.

"This is a huge victory for folks like our clients Don Lambrect and Dave Smith who have no interest in having a union interrupt their mutually beneficial working relationship," commented David Osborne, general counsel for the Fairness Center. "The injunction prevents the union and the governor from coming to terms that harm home care workers and their employers, who are often family members or close friends.

"The union election is now essentially meaningless. The union will not be able to come to terms with the state and, more importantly, will not be able to get the state’s help in taking dues out of home care workers’ paychecks."
Osborne continued, "The court will now have to decide whether Wolf’s order violated the state Constitution by effectively circumventing the state Legislature and making law by executive fiat."

The General Assembly is taking action to defend its legislative authority: On Monday, President Pro Tempore Scarnati and Speaker of the House Turzai filed an Amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Fairness Center’s lawsuit.

Sen. Scarnati and Rep. Turzai say they have "a significant interest as leaders in the Pennsylvania House and Senate in protecting the institutional power of the Legislature from unconstitutional encroachment by the Executive. Executive Order 2015-05 is a blatant attempt by the Governor to circumvent the constitutionally-granted legislative authority of the General Assembly. The executive order should be declared invalid."

The Senate Republican Majority Caucus also issued a motion to intervene on the same day, stating, "As legislators, the Majority Caucus has a substantial, direct and immediate interest in the outcome of this action because if Respondents are not enjoined from enforcing the Executive Order, there will be a discernible and palpable unconstitutional infringement on the legislative authority of the Majority Caucus."

"It’s encouraging to see legislative leaders stand up for home care workers and for the integrity of the state Constitution," Osborne responded. "No one—Republican or Democrat—should be comfortable with their governor issuing unconstitutional executive orders."

It’s clear from the way UHWP is marketing itself to home care workers that the union is in it for the money. In a flier sent to thousands of home care workers across the state urging a vote for the union, the UHWP included a tear-off card for a membership dues check-off authorization.

Osborne concluded:

"The union’s goal is for 2 percent of home care workers’ salaries to be deducted from their pay and sent to them instead. After UHWP backers AFSCME and the SEIU contributed heavily to Gov. Wolf’s election campaign, the unions stand to gain millions every year if the executive order ultimately stands.

"The injunction prevents the most crucial part of the executive order from happening until the case can have a full hearing."

Case Documents:

• Backgrounder
• Petition for review
• Application for preliminary injunction

David Osborne is available for comment today. Contact Cindy Hamill at (856)–607–4208 to schedule an interview.

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The Fairness Center is a nonprofit, public interest law firm offering free legal services to those facing unjust treatment from public employee union leaders. For more information visit www.FairnessCenter.org.