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.”