A strike by 250 American Red Cross workers, scheduled for Sept. 16, was averted after the union negotiating committee presented a tentative agreement to members for a ratification vote.
The committee, representing the AFT-affiliated Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), met all day with members to review the elements of the three-year agreement. When the ballots were counted, the contract was ratified unanimously.
The agreement includes wage increases, and improvements in scheduling and policies regarding working conditions. The settlement averted a possible second strike deadline, following a three-week strike in May and a 90-day cooling off period that ended earlier in September. Across the country, nearly 30 local unions have been engaged in ongoing labor disputes with American Red Cross, Blood Services Division, and a number of groups are now reaching settlements after strike threats.
The HPAE-Red Cross settlement includes:
- wage increases of 2 1/2 percent in each of the first two years;
- an immediate $400 bonus for all unionized workers;
- improvements in leave time and scheduling policies, including the addition of an emergency day and maintenance of travel time policies;
- maintenance of current PPO plan for 2012 with premium caps;
- introduction of a new national health plan in 2013; and
- establishment of a national labor/management committee focused on health benefit issues.
"We fought hard and successfully to maintain working conditions that would ensure safety for our members and donors," says Renee Conyers, president of the HPAE local at Red Cross Blood Services. "We improved scheduling policies, and we have gained a voice at the table on changes to our health coverage. We also eliminated the drastic changes Red Cross initially proposed that we believe would have made our blood drives less safe for workers and our donors." [HPAE news release]