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Press Release 3.28.17

March 31, 2017

Contact: John Bouder, 570-490-1042, john@fairnesscenter.org
 

Scarnati, Turzai, NFIB, Others File Amicus Briefs in Case Challenging Wolf’s Home Care Unionization Order

State Supreme Court Case Could Affect 20,000 Pa. Home Care Workers

March 28, 2017, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Leaders of the General Assembly have joined legal and small business non-profit groups in standing up for thousands of home care workers and recipients whose working relationships are under threat. 

Objecting to Gov. Tom Wolf’s February 2015 executive order forcing unionization on home care workers, the following individuals and organizations have filed Amicus Briefs in David W. Smith & Donald Lambrecht v. Governor Thomas Wolf, currently pending before the state Supreme Court:

  • Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati,
  • House Speaker Mike Turzai,
  • the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center (NFIB),
  • the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF),
  • and the Center of the American Experiment.

In their brief, Sen. Scarnati and Rep. Turzai express their interest “not merely in specifically preserving the Legislature’s constitutional prerogatives over labor relations and health care throughout the Commonwealth, but also … in protecting the institutional power of the Legislature from unconstitutional encroachment by the Executive.”

NFIB adds:

The forced unionization of individual DCWs [Direct Care Workers] and small business owners does nothing to improve the quality or availability of home care services, but rather drives a wedge between DCWs and the people they compassionately serve. Governor Wolf's executive order undermines the intent of the … [Pennsylvania Home Care] subsidy program by taking up to $8,800,000 of wages per year – money that comes from state funds – and giving it to national, politically-active unions.

And NRTWLDF explains that if Wolf were free to impose unionization on those not covered by the state’s Public Employe Relations Act, he also:

… would be free to subject almost anyone who is not a public employee, but receives state funds, to a regime of collective bargaining with the Commonwealth with the mere stroke of the pen. For example, the Governor could issue executive orders identical to … [his home care order] that target physicians accepting Medicaid monies, hospitals accepting Medicaid monies, or any other person or entity directly or indirectly receiving public monies. The proposition that the Governor possesses such vast executive powers is untenable….

Wolf’s 2015 executive order would allow 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. After the Commonwealth Court struck down the order in October 2016, Wolf appealed to the state Supreme Court.

“Many of Pennsylvania’s 20,000 home care workers are family members or close friends of those they care for, as is the case with our clients, Dave Smith and Don Lambrecht,” commented David Osborne, president and general counsel for the Fairness Center.

“Wolf’s attempt to upend this relationship and siphon hundreds of dollars from Don’s pay is a disgrace. Our clients neither need nor want union interference in their working relationship. We are grateful for those who are speaking out on behalf of Dave and Don, and we look forward to continuing to defend their rights before the state Supreme Court.”

Final briefs were due to the state Supreme Court on March 20. A date for oral argument has not yet been set.

Background

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:

David Osborne is available for comment today. Please contact John Bouder at 570-490-1042 or john@fairnesscenter.org 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.