The Red Cross Focuses on Blood Collections Despite Receipt of Strike Notice

August 31, 2011

Work Stoppage Further Threatens Blood Supply

Toledo, OH, August 29, 2011 – Hurricane Irene already has forced the cancellation of over 60 blood drives along the East Coast, resulting in a shortfall of more than 2,100 units of blood. It is expected these numbers will most likely go up significantly due to power outages and storm related damage.

The Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations in areas unaffected by this storm to help build the blood inventory back up to a sufficient level and help meet the needs in the hardest hit areas of Hurricane Irene.

At the same time, the Western Lake Erie Region just received notification of a potential work stoppage by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 75. According to the notice, members of the union may begin a work stoppage at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 10, 2011 should a new contract not be reached by that time.

It is disheartening that union leaders are seeking a labor action that will disrupt blood collections at a time when the need for blood is high and supplies are already tight – and made even more tenuous by Hurricane Irene.

“It is unconscionable and irresponsible that labor leaders would engage in this strike in an attempt to put pressure on negotiations without regard to the impact this may have on hospital patients who depend on lifesaving blood,” said Don Baker, CEO of the Western Lake Erie Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross. “Even worse, they have chosen to strike just before the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.”

Many people across America reflect on what happened in 2001 and choose to commemorate this day of remembrance by donating lifesaving blood. The idea that some union leaders would disrupt lifesaving blood donations on such a solemn day in our nation’s history with a strike is distasteful.

The Red Cross will do all it can to continue to meet the blood needs of hospitals and patients by collecting more blood in areas not affected by these strikes. We have a national system in place which allows us to transport blood from one location to another, wherever and whenever needed.

It’s important to know that the Red Cross has reached agreement on approximately 30 contracts with unions representing workers across the country since 2008. These include six contract agreements over just the past three months. We remain committed to bargaining with the UFCW Local 75 until we have a resolution that is satisfactory to all parties.

In our area alone, 300 blood donations are needed each day to meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients, and children with blood disorders. These patients and others rely on blood products during their treatment. When disaster strikes, this need does not diminish, even though blood donors may find it difficult or impossible to get to a convenient donation opportunity.  If collections are negatively impacted by a disaster, the long-term needs of these patients could also be affected.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height), and who are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. To schedule an appointment, please visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS.


About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at