There will be labor peace again as members of the Teamsters Union working at the Red Cross Blood Services division finally have a new contract, ending a walkout against the blood collection agency.
The Red Cross says member of Teamsters Local 507 ratified the new contact and could be back on the job as early as this week. Health care coverage had been the key sticking point, according to prior media reports.
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(American Red Cross Blood Services) The following statement regarding a new contract agreement between the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Blood Services Region and Teamsters Local 507 may be attributed to Christy Sabaka, Communications Manager:
"The American Red Cross is pleased to announce that it received notification today that a new collective bargaining contract has been ratified with Teamsters Local 507 in the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region. We are grateful that Teamsters members have agreed to the terms of the new contract and will start to return to work as soon as this week. This union represents 236 blood collection operation employees.
The new agreement is equitable and balanced in achieving the needs of both the Red Cross and Teamsters members, and is sensitive to the financial pressures that health care providers are experiencing in today’s economic environment. With an agreement in place, we are looking forward to our valued colleagues returning to work and together focusing our full attention on ensuring a sufficient blood supply for the hospitals and patients we serve. The Red Cross has already reached 23 other agreements with local labor unions since last summer."
As threatened, 200 Teamsters members walked off their jobs with the American Red Cross today.
The two sides have been working to negotiate a new contract. The Teamsters claim their strike is "over concerns about donor safety and the health of Red Cross workers" in a news release issued by Teamsters Local 507 in Cleveland. The Red Cross has said in the past the contract negotiations stalled over disagreements relating to health care programs provided to workers.
Earlier this month, the American Red Cross said it had contingency plans in place to make sure adequate supplies of blood were available to northeast Ohio hospitals, including supplies which would come in from sister Red Cross chapters.
Listen to Katy Berger of the Northern Ohio Red Cross discuss the impact of the strike.
(Teamsters Local 507) More than 200 blood collection workers and mobile unit assistants for the American Red Cross in Northern Ohio went on strike early this morning over concerns about donor safety and the health of Red Cross workers who screen donors, draw and safeguard blood.
The workers, represented by Teamsters Local 507 in Cleveland, had given the Red Cross a 10-day notice in advance of the strike.
“There are serious problems at the Red Cross and potential donors need to be made aware of them,” said Al Mixon, International Vice President and President of Teamsters Local 507. “We had hoped a 10-day strike notice was enough to get Red Cross management’s attention.”
The Red Cross has been fined more than $30 million by the FDA over blood safety practices. This includes a $9.6 million fine just last month for mishandling or misplacing donated blood and, in some cases, transfusing potentially infected blood into patients.
Outside Red Cross’ offices, workers are picketing and holding signs that read, “Red Cross Unfair. Tainted With Greed.”
In addition to neglectful behavior toward donors and recipients, the Red Cross is also mistreating its employees. In Northern Ohio, the Red Cross has made major staffing cuts. It is also trying to replace its workers’ quality health care plan with a far inferior one. This results in high turnover when workers seek other jobs that provide adequate family health care protection. High staff turnover can lead to more challenges to keeping the blood supply safe.
“The Red Cross has a responsibility to this community to protect the health of its workers,” said U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. “I stand with the workers who are fighting to protect us all here in Ohio.”
“This should be a wake up call to Red Cross management, which chooses to ignore FDA fines and mounting evidence that Red Cross treats the Cleveland blood supply as a cash cow
that can be sold for $700 a pint rather than as a guardian protecting our community's public health,” Mixon said. “There are alternative places to donate blood.”
Safeyyah Edwards, a 10-year blood collection instructor at the Red Cross, said, “Our concern is not only for blood donors and recipients, but for our community overall. The Red Cross needs to stop destroying good Ohio jobs.”