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Teamsters, Worker Justice Groups Protest Red Cross Greed

Northern Ohio Workers Travel to Washington, Rally at Red Cross Headquarters

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Almost 200 blood collection workers and mobile unit assistants for the American Red Cross in Northern Ohio traveled by bus to Washington, D.C., today to the national headquarters of the American Red Cross to rally for respect and fair treatment.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100127/IBTLOGO)

The workers, represented by Teamsters Local 507 in Cleveland, have been on strike since Feb. 14. They carried signs that read, "Red Cross: Tainted With Greed" and "Red Cross: America's Blood Is Not Your Bank."

"These loyal Red Cross workers screen donors, draw and safeguard blood. They love their jobs and are passionate about helping people and working with donors," said Al Mixon, Teamsters Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 507. "But the Red Cross is working them to the bone and is trying to replace their quality health care plan with a far inferior one."

The longtime blood donation workers are also extremely concerned about the Red Cross' shoddy blood management practices. The Red Cross has been fined over $40 million by the FDA over blood safety practices. This includes a $9.6 million fine just last month for mishandling or misplacing donated blood and, in some cases, transfusing potentially infected blood into patients.

"Here we've got Red Cross executives - who are in the top 1 percent of earners in this country - forcing underpaid, dedicated workers to absorb unnecessary increases in health care premiums," Mixon said. "Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern receives over $1 million in total compensation each year."

The Ohio-based workers were joined at the Red Cross headquarters by allies from DC Jobs with Justice, the United Steel Workers, the United Auto Workers, United Food and Commercial Workers and Occupy DC.

The workers had given the Red Cross a 10-day notice in advance of the strike, but the company would not budge at the bargaining table.

"To the Red Cross, blood is big business," said Safeyyah Edwards, a 10-year blood collection instructor. "We feel like the Red Cross treats the Cleveland blood supply as a cash cow that can be sold for hundreds of dollars a pint, rather than what it should be - a cornerstone of protecting our community's public health."

Last Saturday, Red Cross workers in Lansing, Mich., gave the Red Cross a 10-day strike notice. Those workers will strike on March 27 if a new contract is not reached by that date.

Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @TeamsterPower.

SOURCE Teamsters Local 507

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