About 250 workers who staff traveling blood drives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are threatening to strike next week if contract negotiations do not go their way.
The Health Professionals and Allied Employees union, which filed a 10-day notice of intent to strike, said it is the first time it has done so since a work stoppage in 1997.
The union is pushing the American Red Cross to reinstate retirement contributions, increase training, and provide more staff at certain blood drives.
“These have been very difficult negotiations where it appears to us that Red Cross is taking advantage of the economy to really take apart the contract,” said Jeanne Otersen, a spokeswoman for the union.
A Red Cross representative said bargaining is ongoing and the nonprofit’s officials are confident an agreement is within reach. If a strike were to happen, however, blood supply to area hospitals would not be interrupted, he assured.
“We have 36 blood regions around the country … if for some reason a work stoppage were to happen, we have the ability to call on any of those other 35 regions and have blood imported to make sure the patients in this Penn-Jersey region, their needs are being met,” said Anthony Tornetta, a spokesman for the American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region.
Tornetta said the Red Cross is simply asking union employees to make the same sacrifices as other workers at both the regional and national level.