by Benjamin Yount
Unionized Red Cross workers in Wisconsin are planning to strike during the year’s largest blood drive.
AFSCME, which represents Locals 1205 and 1558 in Red Cross offices in Madison and Green Bay, on Wednesday said members voted to walk off the job on Dec. 23, just in time to disrupt the Red Cross’s 37th annual Holiday Blood Drive.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says it’s been trying to negotiate a new contract since August of last year, but said Red Cross managers attended just one meeting.
“For 16 months, management at Red Cross in Wisconsin has refused to negotiate in good faith with their employees,” said AFSCME Council 32 Executive Director Patrick Wycoff. “When they finally came to the table, they told the employees that there was no money left for them because they spent it all on raises for workers in other states.”
The union hasn’t specified a dollar amount.
The Red Cross didn’t offer any specifics about money either, but did say it made the union an offer it thinks is generous.
“In Wisconsin, the offer includes lump sum bonuses, annual wage increases, enhancements to safety, holidays and quality affordable health care, as well as a new Paid Family Leave benefit,” The Red Cross said in a statement. “Along with these improvements, we are also proposing to increase the local hiring rates in Wisconsin with other language improvements relating to staffing, scheduling, work/life balance, and more. The offer specifically allows union members to enroll in the new coalition medical plan beginning in 2023.”
The Red Cross’ current contract with its AFSCME members expires next week.
The Holiday Blood Drive is the Red Cross’ largest blood drive of the year.
The strike threat comes as Wisconsin blood banks are looking at a blood shortage.
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