Teamsters Strike Red Cross: Alert Community to Safety Issues
Northern Ohio Region Employees Call Red Cross ‘Cold-Hearted’
CLEVELAND, Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — 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.”
SOURCE Teamsters Local 507