ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel has declined to overturn a new union for thousands of Minnesota personal care attendants who assist the disabled and elderly in home-based settings.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled in one of two legal challenges to the unionization. It upheld a lower court judge's ruling that workers had the right to form a union and assess fees on those who join voluntarily.

It's a blow to a group of health workers who opposed the Service Employees International Union drive.

In their ruling, the appeals judges said the union doesn't violate preexisting contracts care workers have with clients who pay using Medicaid money.

A separate case involving First Amendment association rights of home-care workers hasn't been decided.