Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently enjoyed two victories, one involving a legal challenge to his efforts to empower more than 20,000 home health care workers that some declared an effort to unionize these men and women who are reimbursed by the state and the other his successful reelection in November. Now, with those victories in hand, he is moving forward with what is being described as an experiment to allow these caregivers the opportunity to shape workplace policy in the state.
The governor’s office has created a new statewide advisory group and recently appointed five members to that group. These home health care workers will meet quarterly with the state’s Department of Human Services to find ways to help improve the quality of care aging and disabled residents receive.
The order was first signed in 2015 but due to legal challenges that had to work through the courts, it was shelved until now.
As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette news article, Gov. Wolf appoints advisory group to improve home health care working conditions, written by Daniel Moore:
“Nationwide, home health care is third among the 20 fastest-growing professions, behind solar energy and wind turbine workers, and the lowest paid among them, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median hourly wage for Pennsylvania home health aides was $12.10 in May 2017.
Mr. Wolf’s executive order applied to a segment of “participant-directed” workers — those hired directly by the elderly or disabled individuals, and who care for people directly in their own homes. That’s in contrast to workers in institutional settings such as nursing homes or who are employed by agencies.”
Critics of the executive order have stated it is simply an underhanded effort to unionize these workers, even though they are specifically prohibited from taking part in collective bargaining under federal law. Supporters of the order claimed that even though this may function in similar ways to union, it is a legal outlet that gives these home health care workers throughout the state a voice regarding working conditions and wages.
In August, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sided with Governor Wolf, but it is unclear whether an appeal will be made to the United States Supreme Court. In the meantime, this executive order is moving forward with five individuals who have direct experience in the home health care sector joining three other appointed members for this advisory board.