ST. PAUL (AP) -- Most Minnesotans said they backed Gov. Jesse Ventura instead of union leaders during the largest strike by state workers in Minnesota history, according a new statewide poll.
According to a poll released Monday and taken just days before the strike ended, half of those who responded agreed with Ventura that the state's latest offer on wages and benefits was fair and that the state couldn't afford to pay more. Only 31 percent agreed with the unions that the offer was inadequate. The remaining was not sure.
The tentative agreement that sent 23,000 strikers back to work this week was reached Sunday. The poll of 625 registered Minnesota voters was taken Thursday and Friday.
According to the survey, Minnesotans were split on whether they felt state workers had valid reasons for being on strike. Thirty-seven percent said they did, and 37 percent said they did not. Twenty-six percent said they were not sure.
When asked to rate Ventura's performance managing the negotiations with the unions and the continuation of state operations since the strike, 28 percent rated it as good, 25 percent as fair and 23 percent said it was poor.
The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 6 staged the two-week strike over pay and health benefits.
The deal reached Sunday would give MAPE employees 3 percent raises each of the next two years and AFSCME members 3.5 percent pay increases. Union members had hoped for more. The Ventura administration said it spent too much and warned of possible layoffs.
Ventura had told state workers they should consider the recent sales-tax rebate as a salary increase from their employer. When the poll asked whether the rebate has been considered as such, only 11 percent said they did, while 84 percent said they did not.
The poll by Minnesota Public Radio, KARE-11 television in Minneapolis and the St. Paul Pioneer Press was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. of Washington. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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