The Economy Project
11:36 am
Wed October 14, 2009

Labor Activists Assail American Red Cross

Buffalo, NY – The American Red Cross is coming under fire from labor activists for the way it's treating workers who collect blood donations.

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A study released by the advocacy group Jobs with Justice finds that Red Cross employees work long hours at low pay. And some of them, say activists, have not received appropriate medical training.

"When I first started, we had one staff person per donor at blood donation sites," said Diana Taylor, who has worked for the Red Cross for 19 years. "Blood Collection Specialists worked with a donor from the beginning of the donation process to the end. Now, you might have eight donors for every two staff people. The process has become very assembly-line like, and we are losing our personal connection with donors, which is important for donor safety."

Ellen Kennedy of the Western New York Workers' Rights Board says the Red Cross is damaging its reputation.

"We believe that the American Red Cross is moving in a direction contrary to its mission and values," Kennedy said. "We urge management to consider adopting recommendations for reform before the organization is damaged beyond repair."

The Red Cross declined our request for an interview. In a written statement, the agency says this is a labor dispute and that Jobs with Justice produced a report that is not objective and promotes its workers rights agenda.

The Red Cross says the safety of the nation's blood supply is its highest priority.