PA Court Rules Against Wolf Over Union Favoritism

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A Pennsylvania judge issued a ruling Thursday to temporarily stop an executive order which critics condemned as an attempt by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to unfairly benefit unions.

“This is a huge victory for folks like our clients Don Lambrect and Dave Smith who have no interest in having a union interrupt their mutually beneficial working relationship,” David Osborne, general counsel for The Fairness Center, said in a statement. “The injunction prevents the union and the governor from coming to terms that harm home care workers and their employers, who are often family members or close friends.”

The lawsuit against the executive order was filed by The Fairness Center, a non-profit law firm, which accused Wolf of purposely making it easier for unions to organize homecare workers in the state. The preliminary injunction temporarily stops the executive order and recent attempts by the the Service Employees International Union and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to unionize homecare workers with a secret ballot until a final judgement can be made.

“The union election is now essentially meaningless,” Osborne continued. “The union will not be able to come to terms with the state and, more importantly, will not be able to get the state’s help in taking dues out of home care workers’ paychecks.”

The Commonwealth Foundation, which has supported the challenge against Wolf, has previously claimed the executive order makes it much easier to unionize homecare workers in several ways, including lowering the percentage of workers needed to vote in favor of the union.

Though opponents were successful in stopping the executive order, more will have to be done before they can declare a full victory against Wolf.

“The court will now have to decide whether Wolf’s order violated the state Constitution by effectively circumventing the state Legislature and making law by executive fiat,” Osborne also noted.

Republicans within the state legislature have also moved to stop Wolf. On Monday, President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati and Speaker of the House Mike Turzai filed an Amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs in case.

“The Governor purports to create this new procedure by way of executive order, even though: (i) the General Assembly did not authorize the Executive Branch to do so, (ii) the Governor’s executive order is in direct conflict with established, controlling and constitutionally enacted statutory law,” the brief argued.

Under the executive order, a union would only need 10 percent of favorable votes in order to initiate a vote to represent every homecare worker in the state. During the election, the union will still need a majority to represent those workers.

Wolf claims his order was designed to help homecare workers and their patients, not to help the union organize unwilling homecare workers. Despite this, opponents have argued the SEIU, a major contributor to the Wolf campaign, and unions like it are likely to benefit the most from this executive order.

“The union’s goal is for 2 percent of home care workers’ salaries to be deducted from their pay and sent to them instead,” Osborne said. “After UHWP backers AFSCME and the SEIU contributed heavily to Gov. Wolf’s election campaign, the unions stand to gain millions every year if the executive order ultimately stands.”

“The injunction prevents the most crucial part of the executive order from happening until the case can have a full hearing,” he added.

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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