Wolf Persists in Targeting Home Care Workers

Member Group : News Releases

The Fairness Center
Contact: John Bouder, 570-490-1042, [email protected]

Wolf Persists in Targeting Home Care Workers as Favor to Union Donors
After Court Rejects Wolf’s Forced Unionization Scheme, Gov. Appeals to Pa. Supreme Court

October 25, 2016, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Insistent on helping his union campaign donors capture millions of dollars in dues money, Gov. Wolf has appealed to the Pa. Supreme Court after the Commonwealth Court invalidated his 2015 executive order forcing unionization on home care workers.

Wolf’s order allowed a coalition of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to forcibly unionize thousands of home care workers and extract up to $8 million annually in dues payments from them.

"It’s disappointing that Gov. Wolf persists in upending relationships between home care providers and recipients, particularly after the court called the executive order unconstitutional," commented David Osborne, president and general counsel for the Fairness Center, which represents Dave Smith and Don Lambrecht in their successful suit to stop the order. "By appealing the Commonwealth Court’s decision to the state Supreme Court, Gov. Wolf is saying he is more concerned with giving favors to union leaders than with protecting Pennsylvanians."

The Commonwealth Court’s decision halted a state-by-state collaboration by SEIU and AFSCME to unionize home care workers nationwide. Ten states currently allow home care workers to unionize. In three states—Illinois, Maryland, and Connecticut—unionization was initially enabled via executive order. Pennsylvania is the first state to invalidate such an order.

In its October 14 decision in David W. Smith & Donald Lambrecht v. Governor Thomas Wolf, the court stated that the relationship between home care workers and those they care for would be "undermined" were unionization forced on home care workers.

In a similar case argued with the Smith case, J. Markham v. Thomas Wolf, the court stated on September 22:

"[T]he Executive Order is de facto legislation, with provisions contrary to the existing statutory scheme. At its core, the Executive Order invades the relationship between a [Direct Care Worker] and the employer participant who receives personal services in his or her home."

"Most of Pennsylvania’s 20,000 home care workers are friends or close family members of those they care for, like Dave and Don," Osborne continued. "They neither need nor want union interference, and Don certainly doesn’t want the union taking hundreds of dollars from his pay. Unfortunately, Gov. Wolf is trying to make individuals like Dave and Don political pawns in a national union funding scheme. This is even more disturbing given well documented collaboration between the Wolf administration and the SEIU on this executive order.

"We look forward to continuing to defend the rights of Dave, Don, and all Pennsylvania home care providers and recipients at the state Supreme Court."


The Fairness Center represents Dave Smith, homebound with muscular dystrophy, and Don Lambrecht, Dave’s home care worker for 26 years. In 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order allowing unions to force representation on workers like Don and exact dues payments—up to nearly $8 million per year—from them, while stripping individuals like Dave of their rights as employers.

Case Documents:

Petition for review
Preliminary injunction
Commonwealth Court opinion
David Osborne is available for comment today. Please contact John Bouder at 570-490-1042 or [email protected] 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.