Blood drive workers plan strike tomorrow

    Blood Services workers who staff traveling blood drives in Southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey say they will strike Tuesday if they can’t reach a contract agreement with the Red Cross before then. The groups had reached an agreement to extend the existing contract by a day to allow for more bargaining, but union representatives said a strike is likely.

    Renee Conyers is co-president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees local 5103, which represents about 250 workers. She said they are pushing for more staffing in general and to have a registered nurse on site at each drive. Conyers said she is worried possible changes to scheduling protocol will mean longer and more irregular hours.

    “If the worker has worked the night before until 10 or 11 o’clock and they get home at one or two o’clock and have to be at work the next morning at six o’clock, the safety of the donor, that’s what we’re concerned about,” Conyers said.

    Red Cross spokesman Anthony Tornetta would not comment on specifics of the negotiations, but said the Red Cross is asking the union to make sacrifices other employees did in 2010.

    “From a Red Cross perspective, we’re putting forward contract proposals consistent with the pay and benefits packages provided to our non-union employees,” Tornetta said.

    About a third of Red Cross blood services workers in the region are represented by the union.

    Tornetta said some of the 20 to 25 Red Cross blood drives per day in the region may be rescheduled if the strike happens, but blood supplies won’t be in danger. If necessary, more blood can be imported from other regions.

    Red Cross blood collection workers from six states went on a strike last summer citing unfair labor practices.

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