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Press Release: Lawmaker Intervention Denied

March 29, 2016

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

Lawsuit Challenging Wolf Home Care Executive Order Resumes
Pa. Supreme Court Denies Senate’s Motion to Intervene

March 29, 2016, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Today, the state Supreme Court ruled the Senate Majority Caucus may not join a lawsuit challenging Gov. Tom Wolf’s attempt to force unionization on Pennsylvania home care workers via executive order. The underlying case, however, will resume before the Commonwealth Court.  

The lawsuit, filed in April 2015 by the Fairness Center on behalf of Dave Smith, a home care recipient, and Don Lambrecht, Smith’s home care provider, seeks to defend Smith’s right to privately arrange for his personal care and to protect Lambrecht from following union-imposed rules or paying union dues that would bring him little to no benefit.

“Governor Wolf’s executive order hurts vulnerable Pennsylvanians, including Dave Smith and Don Lambrecht, by allowing unions to step between those who provide care and the people they serve,” stated David Osborne, president and general counsel of the Fairness Center. “The governor’s executive order circumvented the state Legislature and made law to benefit special interests and campaign contributors. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling today will not affect Dave and Don’s challenge to Wolf’s executive order. The court simply determined the General Assembly will be unable to take part, despite their interest in defending the constitutionally protected separation of powers.”

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in August 2015, emails between the Wolf administration and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which donated nearly $1 million to Wolf’s campaign and would benefit from the unionization of home care workers, show close collaboration on the text and timing of the order.

On April 23, 2015, the Commonwealth Court issued a preliminary injunction halting key elements of Wolf’s order.

“Home care workers and their employers should not be used as pawns by Gov. Wolf to advance the aims of one of his major campaign contributors,” Osborne continued. “We look forward to presenting oral argument before the Commonwealth Court on behalf of Dave and Don.”

Click here for more information on this case, including a video of Dave Smith telling his story in his own words.

Case Documents:

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