Tuesday, February 14, 2012

OH Teamsters strike Red Cross

More than 200 blood collection workers and mobile unit assistants for the American Red Cross in Northern Ohio went on strike early this morning.

They're striking over threats to the safety of blood donors and to their own health. The Red Cross has already been fined more than $30 million by the FDA over blood safety practices. Last month, they were fined $9.6 million last month for mishandling or misplacing donated blood and transfusing potentially infected blood into patients.

According to the news release, the workers gave the Red Cross 10 days' notice before the strike. Al Mixon, secretary-treasurer of Local 5507 in Cleveland and an International Vice President, said:
There are serious problems at the Red Cross and potential donors need to be made aware of them. We had hoped a 10-day strike notice was enough to get Red Cross management’s attention.
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. There are alternative places to donate blood.
Outside Red Cross’ offices, workers are picketing and holding signs that read, “Red Cross Unfair. Tainted With Greed.”
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.
Local 507 says Red Cross is mistreating its employees. In Northern Ohio, the Red Cross made major staffing cuts and is trying to replace its workers’ quality health care plan with a far inferior one. The result: 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.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich supports the Teamster Red Cross workers:
The Red Cross has a responsibility to this community to protect the health of its workers. I stand with the workers who are fighting to protect us all here in Ohio.