Red Cross workers demand better wages and health benefits
At a time when the country is experiencing its worst blood shortage in more than a decade, American Red Cross workers, whose work is critical in collecting and maintaining this vital resource, sounded the alarm about its poor conditions. wages and work during a demonstration at the blood and platelet donation center in Pomona.
“We need a salary increase to help us face the high cost of living and inflation, health insurance that we can afford, and more staff because we are currently very short-handed; and that is dangerous because it exposes us to suffering injuries”said Michelle Cisneros, a Red Cross worker.
He explained that last year the contract they worked under expired, and they managed to extend it for a year, but it expires this month.
He said that although the Cross has begun to hire more people, it is up to them to train them; and regarding medical insurance, he pointed out that they fear that benefits will be reduced and costs will increase.
“What we are asking for is not too much for everything we do,” he said.
A contingent of workers from Southern California, represented by the Service Workers International Union (SEIU) local 721, held a small rally in solidarity with the thousands of workers at the American Red Cross who have put their lives on the line to maintain the nation’s blood supply through the covid-19 pandemic.
The demonstration was part of a national mobilization by American Red Cross workers and their allies in multiple cities across the country against the mistreatment of essential blood collection workers.
In addition to Pomona, demonstrations have been held in Washington, DC; Peoria, Ill.; and Lansing, Michigan, among others.
It is estimated that in the country, the American Red Cross has about 4,000 employees.
According to union spokespersons, the worthy institution has refused to negotiate a fair contract to address the dangerous working conditions, including the lack of personnel.
Workers say these conditions contribute significantly to the nation’s blood shortage crisis because the Red Cross’s treatment of workers makes it difficult to retain trained and dedicated staff.
At a rally in San Diego this week, workers said they earn between $18 and $19.50 while inflation has risen to more than 8%.
Robert Feria of the SEIU union, San Diego Local 221, said veteran workers have left when they realize their pay is the same as new hires.
The American Red Cross responded in a statement that they have been in negotiations with union members in recent months to discuss wages, health care and other issues.
“We are working to reach the best settlement possible for our organization, our valued employees and the patients we serve.”
They indicated that the extension of the contract with the coalition of unions of the Red Cross ends on May 31.
“We recognize informational demonstrations, protests, communication with the media and other activities as part of the negotiation process, especially before the finalization of a contract.”
They add that they respect the right of employees to engage in legally protected activities.
“We remain committed to providing our Cruz employees across the country with competitive wages, benefits and working conditions, including access to healthcare.”
They indicate that to this end, they have put forward win-win proposals and provided opportunities to raise wages and ensure affordable, quality health care.
“We continue to negotiate with the intention of reaching a fair and friendly agreement.”
At the same time, they showed that the Red Cross will continue to focus on its mission for patients across the country who rely on them every day to provide them with the blood that saves their lives.
“While a couple of months ago, we experienced a national blood shortage, we currently have a sufficient supply of blood to support patients in need.”