Red Cross Union Workers Plan Strike At Holiday Blood Drive

Red Cross Union workers in Wisconsin plan to strike during the holiday season. On Wednesday, members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) voted to walk away on Dec. 23 at the year’s largest Red Cross Blood Drive event. AFSCME represents 1558 Red Cross offices in Madison and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The union has been trying to negotiate new contracts since August 2021, but Red Cross managers have only attended one meeting. For over one year, management at Red Cross has refused to negotiate with their employees. AFSCME Council 32 Executive Director Patrick Wycoff said, “When they finally came to the table, they told the employees that there was no money left for them because they spent it all on raises for workers in other states.”

The Red Cross and the union avoided specifically mentioning a dollar amount. But the Red Cross did say it made the union a generous offer. The offer sent to the union included bonuses, annual wage increases, new safety enhancements, better healthcare, holidays and a new paid family leave benefit. The Red Cross also proposed increased staffing and better schedules with work/life balance in mind.

Members could enroll in the new coalition plan in early 2023. The current contract with the AFSCME members expires next week. Unfortunately, the strike threat looms as blood banks experience shortages in Wisconsin. The Holiday Blood Drive is the largest blood drive of the year for the Red Cross. Striking workers will form a picket line outside the event at Alliant Energy Center in Madison if an agreement is not reached.

The biggest complaint for union workers may be a lack of quality wages. Because the union and the Red Cross did not verify the numbers, it’s hard to say. President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Stephanie Bloomingdale, says the Wisconsin labor movement stands with the union workers preparing to strike. “Quality wages and fair union contracts help ensure workers are effectively trained and remain in their position to improve over years of service,” Bloomingdale said.

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