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Philadelphia Red Cross Blood Workers Strike to Protect Donor and Blood Safety
Date:12/3/2009

Unfair Labor Practices, Protecting Donors, and Blood Safety Key Issues

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters who work at American Red Cross (ARC) Blood Services facilities in Philadelphia went on strike this morning to protest unfair labor practices and problems with working conditions at these facilities that could imperil the safety of donors and the integrity of the blood supply, not to mention the wellbeing of employees.

The problems outlined in a recent investigative report published by Jobs with Justice include lengthy hours of service for frontline blood workers that sometimes exceed reasonable limits and that the workers themselves say can lead to fatigue and mistakes and sharp reductions in pay for Red Cross frontline blood employees that have led to dramatic increases in employee turnover, resulting in less experience and training in key positions. The report also reveals Red Cross's apparent nationwide practice of violating workers rights under federal labor laws.

"We are concerned of course for our members who rely on their jobs to provide for their families, but we are also concerned for the safety of donors, the blood supply in Philadelphia, and the wellbeing of all Red Cross employees," said Rocky Bryan, Vice-President of Teamsters Local 929. "We believe there is a strong connection between maintaining high standards for donor and blood safety, and employing experienced and well-trained frontline blood drive workers, who perform their critical duties under suitable working conditions."

For the past 15 years, the ARC has been under a federal court order to improve the way it collects and processes blood. Since 2003 the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has fined the organization $21 million in relation to lapses in blood safety. Most recently, the FDA charged the Red Cross with a new round of blood handling violations in two adverse determination letters sent to the Red Cross on October 30, 2009.

Former Red Cross executives admit that ARC's turnover "system wide is about 30% per year," and that this was an area management had identified for improvement. The greatest turnover at the Red Cross is in blood collection, a job that is difficult to fill because the work is unpleasant.

"For our members transporting blood is more than just doing a job. It's about providing the country with the safest and most reliable blood supply possible," Bryan said. "We are taking a stand for donors, blood recipients, and Red Cross blood drive workers across the country. Its time for the Red Cross to get serious about safety issues and respecting its employees."

SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 929, Philadelphia, PA


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SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 929, Philadelphia, PA
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