Spirit of America 9-11 Blood Drive Canceled

July 18, 2012

Unions Reject “No Strike” Agreement  

After union leaders refused to agree there would be no labor disruptions at the annual Spirit of America Blood Drive this year, the American Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region and Michigan International Speedway were forced to cancel their partnership on this long-standing blood drive.


“We are astounded that union leaders forced the cancellation of this nationally acclaimed, lifesaving effort just to further their own agenda,” said Sharon Jaksa, Region CEO.  “Over the past decade, this special event has helped save thousands of lives as our loyal blood donors honored the victims and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attacks.  But since union leadership will not agree to support the drive with the dignity it deserves, we cannot hold our sponsor and donors hostage with the uncertainty of union actions.  Our donors mean far more to us than that.” 


Members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 459 and Teamsters Local 580 recently returned to work without a contract after being on strike for more than three months.  Prior to the latest work stoppage that began on March 30, union members also initiated a three-day strike right before the 2011 Spirit of America blood drive.  Employees at that time did come back to work the day before the event.


OPEIU Local 459 and Teamsters Local 580 have given four intent-to-strike notices in as many years and have initiated a work stoppage three times in those four years.  In the meantime, the American Red Cross has reached 25 agreements with local labor unions since July 2011, with similar health care benefits as were offered here. OPEIU Local 459 and Teamsters Local 580 have rejected these health care benefits, but did agree to return to work on June 21.


On Monday, July 9, the Great Lakes Region was pleased to return to full operations after its formerly striking employees completed necessary training. While the Spirit of America blood drive has been canceled, the Red Cross is encouraging all eligible donors to find a blood drive in their area and make an appointment to donate by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visiting redcrossblood.org.


“We appreciate all that Michigan International Speedway has done to help make the Spirit of America blood drive such a success,” Jaksa said. “Because of their generosity, we were able to give donors a memorable donation experience and help save thousands of lives.”


Since its inception in 2002, the Spirit of America Blood Drive has collected 8,896 units of blood, positively impacting up to 26,688 people in need.