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Home Health Workers Now Have Right to Unionize

Governor Strickland signed an executive order Tuesday allowing home health care workers the right to unionize, and he said he plans to give child care providers the right next.

The move was immediately blasted by critics, who said the governor was overstepping his authority and sending a portion of budget increases for elder and child care to the unions that backed his election.

Strickland, a Democrat elected with significant union support, said his order was intended to foster professional standards and conditions for the 7,000 worker industry as it takes on a growing share of the state's health care burden.

He said giving workers the right to unionize dovetails with his pledge to improve "the continuum of care" at every stage of life. He noted that a working group was established in the recently passed state operating budget to examine this goal.

Home health care workers covered by the order are not state employees or providers employed by home health care agencies.

State Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said the governor has no authority to regulate non-public workers in Ohio and that the workers he seeks to affect with the order are governed by federal labor law.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)