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Economy and Business

Cleveland Red Cross blood drive workers strike
Strike over health benefits not expectedt to hurt blood supply

Kevin Niedermier
Cleveland Red Cross blood drive works are striking over health care benefits.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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About 200 Cleveland Red Cross workers went on strike today after contract negotiations stalled over health care costs. The workers, who set-up blood drives and draw the blood, have been working without a contract since last May. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports on the contract issue, and the impact the strike could have on the blood supply.

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The strikers lined Euclid Avenue in front of the Cleveland Red Cross headquarters near downtown. The Teamsters union represents the workers.  Al Mixon is president of Local 507. He says Red Cross officials refuse to accept the union’s offer of a package that would ease rising healthcare costs.

Mixon:  “With family coverage alone that’s hidden in a network of 600 or 700 bucks a month, which is 3 or 4 times what the membership was paying before. Now, we offered our plan to them about 4 years ago which could have saved them one million dollars. What they’ve done is now nationally is grouped everybody under 1 umbrella. And that’s what the issue is, they don’t want to carve out our group, knowing that our plan is better, knowing that our plan doesn’t cost them anymore money.”

No new talks are scheduled. Cleveland Red Cross spokeswoman Christy Saboka says the blood supply is OK now. But she is concerned that the strike caused the cancellation of the region’s largest scheduled blood drive where nearly 1000 pints are collected each year.  She says the Cleveland Red Cross can get blood from other regions if the supply drops too low.
Listener Comments:

I dont understand why the workers are complaining. they are made aware of the hours in training and still want the job. If your not happy go somewhere else. ask yourself who is hurting the most because of the strike complaining about wages but your on strike how much are you making while on strike?

Posted by: Anonymous on February 16, 2012 9:02AM
We work long days and drive all over the northern half of the state, If we didn't love the job we wouldn't continue to do it. We love our donors and they love us, they look forward to coming in to donate every 56 days and seeing the same faces.All we are asking for is better health insurance and better working conditions. We have to drive long distances, move the furniture at the sites, set up our equipment do our job drawing blood, process it and then take it all down clean it and pack it back up, load the truck and drive back home. Our days are long but, like I said we love our job, and we are very good at what we do.

Posted by: Anonymous on February 16, 2012 7:02AM
I have had the priveledge to work with this group for many years. We are a family, but not Mgmt! They treat the collection as disposable rags, hiring every month a new crop. In 6 years they have hired over 400 people but only a little more than 200 work in collections!?!? Why u ask? They quit, get fired, its not for everyone. My day can start at 5 am and end at 10 pm depending where I'm a assigned. But...I love it! I deserve a better health plan than the 1 we have, it wld be a savings of $4000 to $6000 a year in premiums and copays!! Pray for us! We want to work! And we want new Mgmt

Posted by: swammymommy (Cleveland) on February 14, 2012 7:02AM
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