Eight national unions announced Oct. 1 that they ratified a first-ever national collective bargaining agreement with the American Red Cross. The unions formed a coalition to address the financial challenges facing Red Cross as well as key workforce issues—no easy task in light of often strained labor relations at the organization.
For the first time, a national collective bargaining agreement will cover about 4,000 workers at the American Red Cross represented by the eight unions that formed the ARC Union Coalition: the AFT; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Service Employees International Union; United Auto Workers; United Food and Commercial Workers Union; and United Steelworkers.
The three-year national agreement was ratified by 41 local unions representing 90 percent of coalition employees. The national agreement is an addendum to the local unions' individual agreements.
"This was a tough situation; there has been a long history of acrimony between labor and management at the Red Cross, while providing essential services and in the midst of transition," says AFT President Randi Weingarten. "The unions decided the best way for our members to have a real voice was by working together. And the agreement shows what can be done when workers and their unions, along with management, come together to find common ground. This coalition underscores the unwavering commitment of our eight unions to the long-term future of the American Red Cross and to protecting the country's vital blood supply."
"This is an important step forward for healthcare professionals whose work enables the American Red Cross to save lives," says AFT Vice President Ann Twomey, RN, who is president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees and vice chair of AFT Nurses and Health Professionals. "It's a win for the families and communities the Red Cross serves. When frontline professionals have a voice in decisions that affect their work, they can focus on providing excellent service—and everyone wins."
The American Red Cross manages about 40 percent of the nation's blood supply and engages in humanitarian efforts domestically and internationally.
HPAE represents American Red Cross workers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including registered nurses, phlebotomists and administrative staff. The Oregon Nurses Association/AFT represents registered nurses in the Pacific Northwest Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross. Both are affiliates of the AFT, which is the second-largest nurses' union in the country.
[AFT press release]