The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in August that Governor Tom Wolf’s executive order was not unconstitutional. This order involved allowing unions to represent more than 20,000 home care workers throughout the state providing services to elderly and disabled residents.
Opponents of the order claimed that forcing people into unions against their will meant they would be funding certain political endeavors and paying monthly membership fees without any say. Supporters of the executive order claimed that home health care workers have been underrepresented, receiving paltry wages, support, and benefits for far too long and that this representation is needed to protect them.
The discussion has been a hot button topic across the country for numerous years with some states making the same effort as Pennsylvania, such as Illinois, only to have a challenge reach the United States Supreme Court and a ruling going against the unions. Currently, though, unions can move forward to represent the estimated 20,000 home care workers throughout the state.
As noted by ‘Open Minds’ in a brief news blog, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Upholds Governor’s Order Allowing Collective Bargaining [f]or Home Health Care Workers:
“On August 21, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a 2015 executive order issued by state governor Tom Wolf that allows collective bargaining by a union-like entity to represent the 20,000 home care workers providing personal care services to beneficiaries of Medicaid and similar state-funded programs. Home care recipients are the legal employers of their home care workers, with authority to hire, train, manage, pay, and fire their home care workers. The executive order offers the union authority to meet with the state Department of Human Services (DHS) to set terms and conditions of employment for all.”
It is unclear how many of these home care workers are providing these services through agencies and how many are considered independent as well as how many are taking care of family members, which could include disabled adult children, aging parents, and so forth. When a family member takes care of an elderly or disabled individual, they can be reimbursed through the state for those services. The underlying principle is that it’s cheaper to have these men and women at home, where they are most comfortable, as opposed to moving them into a far more costlier option like a nursing home.
However, the debate rages about whether or not these individuals can be considered state employees or not simply on the foundation that they are receiving reimbursement through the state Medicaid system. It’s unclear whether an appeal will be made regarding this case to the United States Supreme Court, but if action in other states is any indication, this issue is far from fully resolved.