BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -- A hundred employees from six different blood service facilities in Erie county are on a three day strike. Employees who are also members of the CWA Local 1122 are participating in a National Unfair Labor Practice strike against the Red Cross.
The two groups haven't been able to agree on a new union contract. Employees say they're on strike to try and get a contract that ensures a healthy blood supply to the public. "Their concern is just get the donors in the door. They don't care how hot it is outside, if there's air conditioning... have the proper equipment, they want those donors in and served," one employee said.
"Our members have decided we will not put the flow of blood in Western New York at risk," James Wagner, the President of CWA Local 1122, said. "We are doing this to protest over the National Labor Relations Board complaints and to stop and remedy the harm these charges are bringing our members. After three days, we will walk back and we will continue our mission as need be."
Union employees are also protesting the recent decision to relocate two of the six blood service facilities to outside of Western New York. 65 employees total have been notified they're being laid off. "I'm devastated. I've given 30 years of my life to this company and they are just casting us aside for all the wrong reasons," one employee being laid off said. "There has always been a distribution center here in Buffalo but as of July of this year there will no longer be a distribution center and I think that's a huge safety factor."
A spokesperson for the Red Cross says there isn't an issue with the blood supply and the lay offs are necessary. "It's something completely separate from the contract negotiations, it's just a business decision made at a national level," Marianne Schreyer, the Red Cross Blood Services Manager, said. "Anytime a business decision like that is made it's a sad day for everyone at the Red Cross. These are our family members, but business decisions have to be made. I can assure you the blood supply has been safer than it has ever been. The FDA even agrees with that and we certainly want to keep blood safety separate from our labor negotiations."
Several unions around the country are participating in strikes against the American Red Cross this week.