In the Spotlight

News & Features

Ventura: State employees shouldn't be allowed to strike
By Ashley Grant
Associated Press
October 23, 2001

Listen to the entire Midmorning interview with Gov. Ventura on October 23, 2001

ST. PAUL (AP) - Gov. Jesse Ventura said Tuesday that he thinks state workers should be prohibited from striking. "That's a philosophical viewpoint I have," Ventura said during an interview on Minnesota Public Radio.

He said it limits the state's ability to provide services to citizens and puts the government in a "very precarious position."

Minnesota is one of only about 10 states in which state employees can legally go on strike.

Labor experts say it's difficult to say the exact number because in some states strikes are technically legal, but in practice never allowed. "We're a minority state that does allow it," Ventura said.

About 23,000 workers from Minnesota's two largest state employees unions ended a two-week strike earlier this month.

An economist with the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Minnesota's strike was the second-largest public walkout since 1990. About 47,000 workers in Los Angeles joined a job action in 2000, he said. But they were county workers, not state employees.

Minnesota's strike was also unusual in the number of affected services. The strikers include driver's exam instructors, social workers, psychologists, nurses' aides, food workers, fiscal auditors, animal trainers and janitors, among others.

Despite his feelings, Ventura said the law's the law and he respects the rules the state operates under. "I deal with it," he said. He said the economic fallout from the strike shouldn't hurt Minnesota much because the state saved money while workers were striking.

"I'm far more worried about the economic outlook out in the private sector," he said.

A 23-year state employee called in to the radio program and asked Ventura how the state expected to attract younger employees when it had a governor saying state employees should get another job if they didn't like working for the state. "If you're unhappy with your job, that's America," Ventura said. "You certainly have the ability to seek other employment."

He said that didn't mean he was encouraging state workers to look elsewhere.