Red Cross Workers Still On Strike
(Sound of Feb 14th strike--people chanting, "Ain't no power like the power of people")
On Valentine's Day, the 250 members of Teamsters Local 507, who collect blood and run mobile units in 19 Northern Ohio counties, went on strike. This was after nine months of failed contract negotiations with the American Red Cross.
The main sticking point is health insurance--workers say the plan is not affordable or fair, citing things like high deductibles and co-pays.
The Red Cross says the proposed benefit packages are in line with what was provided to non-union staff members and that 18 other unions have ratified similar contracts.
Also at issue are staffing levels and break time.
Safeyyah Edwards, an employee of 10 years, says 12 hour days are not unusual and that the fatigue can contribute to mistakes.
Blood supply in the region has not been affected because blood is being shipped in from other regions.
Red Cross Spokeswoman Christy Sabaka says this isn't a long term solution.
SABAKA: Of course our concern though is the longer this goes on, the more it could affect our community here in Cleveland because obviously in an emergency situation, it's the blood here locally that helps save lives.
Red Cross workers in Toledo and Lansing Michigan are also on strike over these same issues.
No new talks have been scheduled.
Only a handful of the region's typical 25 daily blood drives are in operation right now. They are being run by managers and workers who have crossed the picket line.