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PA Court OKs Wolf's Bid To Organize Homecare Workers

HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) -- The state Supreme Court has upheld an executive order from Governor Tom Wolf to organize workers who care for elderly or disabled people in their homes under a union-like structure.

Under it, workers would choose representatives to meet with the state about pay and benefits.

The 2015 executive order was one of the first Wolf issued as governor.

It immediately drew fire from people who thought he was overstepping his authority, or that state involvement would complicate the direct relationship between workers and patients.

David Osborne is general counsel for the Fairness Center, which sued the state over the order and frequently argues cases against unions. He said they're concerned state involvement will complicate the direct relationship between workers and patients.

"They have control over the relationship, they have control over their own care. It has never made sense to insert a union into that relationship," he said.

He added, "Home care workers really have no choice in whether to be represented by the union here. It becomes the exclusive representative for everybody, and they become the exclusive representative for everybody and they end up being bound by the terms and conditions that are hammered out by the governor's office and the union."

But in a decision that overturned a lower court's ruling, the Supreme Court said Wolf is within his rights because the order is "voluntary, nonbinding, nonexclusive and unenforceable."

The administration said it impacts all direct care workers--about 20,000 people who make $10.26 an hour on average.