State of Connectict Clerical Bargaining Unit Local 196

Red Cross Layoffs Threaten Blood Safety

State Rep. Peter Tercyak joins our members in condemning Red Cross layoffs.

New Britain, CT, Nov. 11, 2009 – Members of AFSCME Local 3145 said today that the recent layoffs of Red Cross blood drive employees endanger the safety of the community unnecessarily. 

The members made their statements at a press conference at Council 4 AFSCME union headquarters in New Britain. The news conference came on the heels of a November 6 “bloodbath,” in which the Connecticut Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross laid off 19 employees (nearly 10 percent of the workforce) without warning. 

“I have worked for the American Red Cross for over 10 years and it breaks my heart to see that they are cutting front-line workers and undermining their first priority, which is to assure public safety. said Deena Staples, an apheresis technician who is among the laid off workers. “We are the professionals who are trusted by the public. We also organize many blood drives. When the Red Cross cuts us, the public bleeds.” 

Union members maintain the layoffs are part of a hard line stance the Red Cross is taking with negotiations across the country, not a result of the a drop in blood donations. Local 3145 members have worked without a contract since April 26. 

The Connecticut layoffs come at a time when the state Department of Public Health has asked the Red Cross to submit a corrective plan of action in light of concerns (raised by our union) about the use of unlicensed medical staff to perform a special blood collection procedure known as the double red procedure. The Connecticut Blood Services Region has suspended use of the double red procedure on its mobile drives.

News of the layoffs came on the heels of a new national report by labor journalist Philip Dine questioning the Red Cross's treatment of donors and workers.

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