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American Red Cross of Philadelphia sounds off on Union Work Stoppage and Blood Shortage Rumors

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The American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Region employees who are members of the Health Professional and Allied Employees (HPAE) Local 5103 initiated a work stoppage on May 24th.

As of this time, there are no further negotiations on the horizon.American Red Cross

Anthony Tornetta, Regional Communications Manager for American Red Cross, spoke with Philly2Philly regarding the state of the work stoppage as well as the rumors concerning a possible blood shortage.

Philly2Philly: As far as the stoppage is concerned, how did it get to this point? Were there any signs whatsoever that this would be a possibility?

Anthony Tornetta:  The Health Professional and Allied Employees (HPAE) Local 5103 initiated a work stoppage on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, after just two months of negotiations for a new contract. The Red Cross is disappointed that the union has taken this action. The union represents approximately 240 Penn-Jersey Region employees who collect blood, care for donors at blood drives and donor centers, audit blood donor records, and schedule staff.

P2P: Have you guys been in touch with anyone in the union as of late?

AT: The Union has not initiated any additional negotiating sessions since they walked out on May 24th.

P2P: What are the main problems here preventing an agreement?

AT: The Red Cross put forward a proposal that is fair, competitive, and consistent with the pay and benefits package provided to our non-union staff.  Like many other companies and non-profit organizations, the Red Cross has had to take difficult steps to control costs during this challenging economy. We are asking union employees to make sacrifices similar to those made by non-union employees as we navigate through these difficult financial times.

P2P: Is there anything you want to clarify regarding the local blood supply? There have been some questions about that from people in the area.

AT: Our goal is to ensure that hospital patients across the Philadelphia region have the blood they need when and where they need it.

The Red Cross collects more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and distributes blood and blood products to more than 3,000 hospitals in the country.  The Penn-Jersey Region supplies approximately 100 area hospitals across Southeastern Pennsylvania and the state of New Jersey. The Red Cross blood supply has never been safer!

P2P: Who are the union workers being replaced by?

AT: Blood drives, both here and across the country, are appropriately staffed by professionals who have received extensive training. In fact, Penn-Jersey collections staff (including those who are striking) just completed over 40 hours of additional intensive training designed to improve the overall collection process and donor experience. In addition, the Penn-Jersey Region has dedicated medical staff, including physicians, who are available 24 hours a day to consult on any medical concerns that may arise.

P2P: Are you realistic that this can be resolved quickly?

AT: We’re hopeful and we always have been.

P2P: Is there anything you’d like to address to the union?

AT: While union leaders have been raising issues of blood safety, I want to assure the public that the claims that call blood safety into question as a negotiation tactic are inaccurate and highly disappointing. The reason why is that it may discourage individuals from donating blood and create unnecessary alarm among potential blood recipients.

I want you and your viewers to know our top priority is the health and safety of every patient who receives blood, and every donor who gives blood.

Ultimately, the Red Cross remains committed to providing the highest-quality and safest blood products possible to the patients we serve – throughout this work stoppage, and always.

If you have any questions about the current situation regarding the American Red Cross work stoppage or blood supply, please call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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