August 5, Farmington, CT - Red Cross blood collection workers in Connecticut took their fight for respect to company headquarters in Farmington, CT with a rally to raise awareness about an organization the workers say has put profits ahead of safety.
“Three years ago, we sacrificed substantially during negotiations to help the Red Cross sell a competitive product,” said Local 3145 President Debra Lenentine, who works as a phlebotomist. “The Red Cross is all about big money and bigger profits at the expense of donors and workers.”
AFSCME Local 3145 represents 225 Red Cross blood collection workers who have worked without a contract since their three-year collective bargaining agreement expired in April. The bargaining unit consists of phlebotomists, nurses, drivers, apheresis, laboratory technicians and more.
Connecticut AFL-CIO President John Olsen, State Sen. Don DeFronzo, State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz were among the guest speakers showing their support for Local 3145 members.
Olsen evoked the memory of the late AFSCME labor activist Al Casale, who helped organize the Red Cross workers, and told the audience of more than 100 supporters that Local 3145's fight is labor's fight.
Sen. DeFronzo told the crowd he would support legislation requiring a licensed registered nurse on all blood drives -- one of the things the Red Cross is trying to do in negotiations remove to fatten its profits.
“What would Clara Barton, the nurse who founded the Red Cross, have to say about all this?” asked Local 3145 member Sarah Emmons, a registered nurse who works on blood drives. “She intended for the Red Cross to be a humanitarian organization, not a business driven by corporate greed.”