ST. JOSEPH COUNTY — Local Red Cross chapters are worried about what a strike of Red Cross workers would do the area's blood supply. The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU Local 459) has issued their 10-day strike notice.
Representatives for Local 459 said they've tried to work on a new contract for years.
A spokesperson from the Red Cross said union reps don't want to make concessions and pay more for rising health costs.
One thing both sides agree on — The American Red Cross is out for blood. The threat of a strike and the cancellation of blood drives in the northeast portion of the country, thanks to Hurricane Irene, are two reasons why.
Now, Red Cross chapters across the country will be working overtime to make sure the blood supply is adequate.
"We're already stretching blood supply pretty thin," said Monica Stoneking, a spokesperson for the Great Lakes Region of the American Red Cross. "So the red cross is very disappointed at the disrespect shown by union representatives who intended to strike before the largest blood drive the Great Lakes Region holds."
While discussions with Local 459 and the Teamsters is expected to continue until the weekend, Stoneking said the organization is prepared as if a strike is happening.
In all, 280 union workers — nurses and people who test and distribute blood — will strike September 7.
Representatives from Local 459 said negotiations started three years ago. The cost of Healthcare is one of their concerns.
Joseph Marutiak, a Local 459 representative, said the Red Cross has not negotiated in good faith. He also said this isn't just a local problem.
Marutiak said the Red Cross has refused to bargain. The union is concerned about staffing and safety issues — like having licensed workers at drives.
"We're telling people worried about the blood supply to use other vendors to donate their blood," he said. "We believe the Red Cross [when leaders from the organization said] it would be able to maintain an adequate supply in the event of a strike.