State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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PA's highest court considering governor's appeal in home care case

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 28, 2017 11:27 PM
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The state Supreme Court is weighing the constitutionality of one of Governor Tom Wolf's first executive orders. (Photo by AP)

 

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania's Supreme Court is deciding whether Governor Tom Wolf overstepped his authority with an executive order letting the state organize home healthcare workers under a union-like structure.

A lower court already decided against the governor once.

But lawyers for the Wolf administration argue the governor's directive merely gives workers an option to voice their concerns.

The 2015 order--one of Wolf's first in office--targets independent workers who care for elderly and disabled people in their homes.

It has them pick representatives to meet with the state human services secretary about issues like pay and benefits. It also gives their contact information to representative groups, which opponents say could facilitate future organizing.

The Fairness Center, which often argues cases against unions, is bringing the case.

The group's lawyer David Osborne, said the real point is that Wolf should have had legislative approval to create that organizational structure.

"This is really about separation of powers, not about, for instance whether it's a good idea for home care workers to be represented by a union," Osborne said.

The administration maintains the effort isn't a union.

A spokesman for Wolf said in a statement, "the health aides and others that do this work, which is incredibly challenging, deserve to have a voice on how to improve this growing industry."

State attorneys said since the case was filed, they've given home care workers way to opt out of the home care lists--a move that could change the nature of the case.

The court will release its verdict sometime in the future.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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