An anti-union state lawmaker in Pennsylvania compared unions to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin while debating legislation on Wednesday that would prevent government employers from automatically deducting union fees from employees’ paychecks.
“The unions are about power and control,” state Sen. Scott Wagner (R) said. “And there are two things that I continue to remember about power and control. There was a gentleman by the name of Hitler, he was about power and control. There’s a gentleman by the name of Putin, who’s across the ocean, that’s about power and control.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Wagner later clarified that he wasn’t comparing unions to the strongmen, but merely “talking about the concept of power and control.” “I didn’t say the unions are out killing people,” he added.
But that explanation didn’t sit will with Pennsylvania State Education Association president Mike Crossey, who criticized the comments. “This kind of language is shocking, offensive and has no place in public discourse,” Crossey said. “It is so disappointing to see a powerful elected official making such an awful comparison. What a terrible example this sets for our children.”
Lawmakers who support the measure complain about unions using taxpayer-funded automatic payroll deductions, but unions say that the cost is negligible. Democrats see the measure as a broader Republican-led effort to undermine organized labor in the state. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) pledged to sign the measure, but it has faced bipartisan opposition and is unlikely to pass.
Later in his remarks, Wagner lashed out at the unemployed, implying that they were too lazy to find jobs. Explaining why they can’t find work, Wagner said, “you would have to have an alarm clock and you would have to be able to get out of bed.” “You would have to be able to pass a drug test and you would have to have some work ethic. And this is a problem, and it is all over this country,” he added.