Videos: State Sen. Scott Wagner spars with demonstrators

Written by Ed Mahon, York Daily Record | Mar 12, 2015 7:38 AM

State Sen. Scott Wagner briefly greeted a group of demonstrators as he headed into his York office.

A few minutes later, the Republican from Spring Garden Township came back outside. He asked about one of the signs.

"I'm curious," Wagner said. "... What do I need to apologize for?"

Wagner debated and traded verbal jabs with them for several minutes.

Video: Wagner, protesters talk outside his office.

"You are a bully," Linda Sanders, vice president of the York/Adams Central Labor Council, told Wagner at one point.

"Well, that's your opinion and that's great," Wagner replied, later telling her, "If you have an opinion, why don't you run for political office?"

The exchange marked the latest sparring that Wagner has had with unions and their backers.

In June, Wagner said on the Senate floor that unions, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler were about "power and control." In October, World War II veterans and labor leaders condemned Wagner in a TV ad.

Wagner has said public sector unions control Harrisburg and have prevented pension reform, liquor privatization and other changes.

He has pushed for a constitutional amendment to prevent the state and school districts from making paycheck deductions for union dues, non-membership fees and political contributions.

Critics of the that type of legislation, known as paycheck protection, have called it a union busting measure and said the cost of collecting money from paychecks is minuscule.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association, a common target of Wagner's criticism, has said whether a school district makes automatic deductions from paychecks is a local, negotiated decision. PSEA says union dues aren't given to political candidates. Wythe Keever, a spokesman for PSEA, said union dues are separate from voluntary political deductions.

Keever said under existing state law, unions can use a portion of union dues to communicate with their members and their immediate family members about a recommended candidate. He said other organizations do the same thing.

Wednesday's demonstration outside Wagner's York office was one of several that took place at the offices of Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania. Keystone Progress, a progressive advocacy organization, organized the effort.

In York, much of the discussion focused on the minimum wage and Wagner's comments about unions.

Wagner traded jabs with Bob Kefauver, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County.

At one point, Wagner said 25 percent of the people who are unemployed are unemployable, because they can't pass drug tests and physicals.

"Not true, just not true senator," said Kefauver, "respectfully, those numbers are way inflated."

Wagner pointed at Kefauver.

"How many people do you employ?" he said.

"I don't employ anybody," Kefauver replied.

"OK, well I do," said Wagner, the head of Penn Waste, a waste removal and recycling company. "So you know what, I'm going to tell you right now: I know more than you know because I employ people."

Wagner and Kefauver continued going back forth.

"I don't need a smart ass here," Wagner twice told Kefauver.

Kefauver replied: "To use your term, I don't need a smart ass representing me either."

Later in the day, the Democratic Party of York County sent out a fundraising email that referred to Wagner's comments.

Here are more videos:

Video: Wagner approaches protesters.

Video: More from Wagner, protesters.

This article comes to us through a partnership between the York Daily Record and WITF.

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