Red Cross Is Instructing Truckers to Draw Blood and Nurses to Load Trucks

A press release about a labor dispute at the American Red Cross (ARC) is challenging perceptions of the venerable institution and how it conducts its mobile unit blood drives.

Issued in early November by Council 32 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the announcement states:

In recent months, the Red Cross-Badger Hawkeye Region began to require nursing staff to load and drive trucks and truck drivers/loaders to draw donors’ blood. Those who refuse risk the loss of their jobs.

AFSCME also notes that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has “found sufficient grounds” to hear the union’s unfair labor practice complaint on behalf of members subject to the combined and seemingly disparate job duties.  

ARC, the complaint asserts, unilaterally imposed the work scheme while “failing and refusing to bargain collectively and in good faith,” which is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

AFSCME District Representative Neil Rainford says a ruling on the complaint covering members in Wisconsin and northeast Iowa could impact thousands of workers under a sweeping 2015 “national addendum” between ARC and eight major unions with dozens of local affiliates. Some unions have had regional contracts in place for years.

AFSCME was and is willing to bargain over new classifications with the right protections, Rainford says, but is pushing back as ARC pushes forward with a plan that’s “bad for donors and bad for staff.”

ARC’s job posting for the hybrid Driver/Phlebotomist position has no requirements beyond a high school diploma, people skills and the ability to drive legally and move heavy objects. Rainford says the position pays less than what current nursing staff earn — even as it morphs two jobs into one.

Longtime ARC supporter Ruth Brill tells In These Times she is appalled. Since 1971, Brill says, she has given 20 gallons of blood and served for six years on ARC’s regional blood services board of directors.

“I’ve seen…

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