Despite disaster recovery efforts going on in the East, the Great Lakes Region Red Cross has received a strike notice from the local unions.
The Red Cross reports 280 Red Cross nurses and Blood Collection Staff Members, who are members of OPEIU Local #459 and Teamsters Local #580 unions, have issued a potential work stoppage that would begin at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday September 7th if a new contract can TMt be reached.
It is unconscionable and irresponsible that labor leaders would engage in this strike in an attempt to put pressure on negotiations without regard to the impact this may have on hospital patients who depend on lifesaving blood, said Sharon Jaksa, CEO of the Great Lakes Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross in a written statement. Even worse, they have chosen to strike just before the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania|. It is disheartening that some union members would disrupt lifesaving blood donations on such a solemn day in our nation TMs history by striking against the American Red Cross. This is especially true considering the significant role the Red Cross played in responding to the tragic event.
The Red Cross reports that health benefits have been the biggest issue in their negotiations with these unions. The organization states, [t]he Red Cross has put forward contract proposals consistent with the pay and benefits packages provided locally to our non-union staff, which were declined by the unions. The Red Cross currently offers a national health insurance plan that pays 90 percent of the premium amounts for employees and 80 percent for their dependents. The Red Cross will continue to meet with the union TMs bargaining team in an effort to reach an agreement. We have made fair and competitive proposals which we had hoped would be ratified by union members. The Red Cross has reached agreements on 6 union contracts just this summer, and is committed to finding resolutions in other negotiations.
The Red Cross is a non-profit organization, and its leaders say striking would only hurt the patients, not the company. In a phone interview with NBC25 Tuesday morning, Red Cross Media Contact Monica Stoneking told NBC25, "We understand their frustrations, we understand they are paying less for their insurance now but everybody has to make concessions - and the non-union members have done this we are asking our union staff to do the same its not about them - or anybody else but our patients in need."
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