Teamster Strike at Red Cross Spreads to Michigan, Grows in Ohio
Lansing, Michigan Teamsters Forced To Strike Against Red Cross Greed
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Workers at the American Red Cross represented by the Teamsters Union and the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) were forced to strike today in Lansing, Mich., over rising concerns about understaffing and cuts in health care benefits despite $2 billion in revenue from blood donations.
The strike of about 150 Lansing workers escalates widespread employee unrest at Red Cross. They joined about 400 workers in Ohio who have already walked off the job to protest the organization’s greed and its lack of concern for blood donation safety.
“Red Cross employees have made every attempt to settle outstanding contract issues,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President, in a letter to Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern. “They love the work they do, but long shifts with short staff and high pressure, combined with management’s insistence on replacing their quality health insurance with a far inferior one, has left them no other choice.”
Earlier this week, 150 Red Cross workers who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) walked off the job in Toledo, Ohio. They joined 250 Teamsters who were forced to strike in Cleveland on February 14.
Lansing Red Cross Teamsters have been without a contract since May 1, 2009 despite vigorous attempts by local union officials to work with Red Cross so that blood safety concerns and a new health care plan could be addressed.
“I want Red Cross to bargain in good faith over our health care,” said Jennifer Hemstreet, a 19-year mobile unit assistant for blood drives working in Lansing. “Blood donors provide their own blood for free and Red Cross turns around and sells it for $250 or more a pint. They say it’s to pay my salary, but it doesn’t add up. The CEO of Red Cross makes more than $1 million a year.”
“We will fight Red Cross in order to have the right to bargain over health care,” said Michael Parker, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 580 in Lansing. “They are cutting the health benefits of their employees around Ohio, Michigan and everywhere else. Plus, the Red Cross has racked up $40 million in fines from the Food and Drug Administration. But, the big shots in Washington are feasting over workers’ sacrifices. If you ask me, the Red Cross is infected with greed.”
The safety of the collected blood is also an important issue in the strikes. Red Cross management has tried to eliminate necessary restroom and fatigue breaks for blood collection staff. The result is that employees are overworked and concerned that despite carefully following blood collection protocol, mistakes could occur, thus jeopardizing blood inventory.
“Non-profit employers should not take the short-sighted view of putting their workers’ health and community’s safety on the line in pursuit of money,” Hoffa said. “When dedicated employees call out for a safer process that protects the public, the workers and the blood supply, they deserve respect and consideration.”
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, including more than 7,500 route sales representatives, drivers and other employees at Hostess Brands Inc. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @TeamsterPower.
SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters