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Teamsters Call on United Way to Aid Frontline Blood Drive Workers

Red Cross Executives Put Profits Before Safety

WASHINGTON, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa today called on the United Way and its Board of Directors to support frontline blood drive workers employed by the American Red Cross, one of the United Way's principal charities, as they work to protect the safety of donors and the country's blood supply.

Red Cross blood drive workers often work 14 hours a day, six days a week, driving to and from blood drives, unloading and loading heavy equipment, assessing donors' health histories, conducting physicals, collecting blood, caring for donors after donation and packing up blood and transporting it for processing and testing.

"Despite the critical role these workers play in safeguarding America's blood supply, Red Cross executives appear to be pursuing a course that would worsen working conditions, push down living standards, undermine workers' right to representation, threaten safety standards and create a disposable work force," Hoffa said.

The Red Cross has hired a union-busting lawyer to pursue unreasonable demands that include forcing employees to work up to seven days a week and refusing to compensate frontline workers for mastering valuable certifications and job skills such as phlebotomy, maintaining donor health records and performing other donor safety activities. Red Cross also wants to implement a more expensive and inferior health care plan.

For 16 years, the Red Cross has been under a federal court order to improve its blood donor operation, and it has been fined $21 million by the Food and Drug Administration since 2003. Former Red Cross executives say many of the problems the Red Cross has experienced over the last decade, including the ongoing federal consent decree, are exacerbated by high turnover among employees, many of whom are paid little better than minimum wage.

"Red Cross executives are attempting to rationalize their actions by pleading poverty, but Red Cross representatives have confessed off the record that the organization has more than enough money to offer its workers a fair contract," said Gary Cossarini, President of Teamsters Local 682 in St. Louis, Missouri, which represents Red Cross workers in the Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region.

"On behalf of the thousands of Teamsters who support the United Way and its charities, I ask you to use your good offices to stand with frontline Red Cross blood drive workers as they fight for a fair contract that protects America's blood supply," Hoffa said.

Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters
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