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Red Cross strike suspended, blood drives to resume this weekend

American Red Cross workers walking a picket line earlier this week in Lansing
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
American Red Cross workers walking a picket line earlier this week in Lansing

 A strike by American Red Cross blood workers in Michigan has been suspended after two days.   More than 200 American Red Cross workers started walking picket lines Wednesday.    The unions representing the Red Cross workers called the strike, after working for more than 2 years without a contract.   

The strike affected blood donations in 65 Michigan counties.  The strike did not include 8 counties in southeast Michigan.  

Joe Marutiak is with the Office and Professional Employees International Union.   He says the strike accomplished what it was intended to do, get the two sides back to ‘serious’ contract talks. 

“I can’t get into the specifics…we need to leave them for the bargaining table…but we think if we return to the table…we hope to see significant progress.”

The Red Cross and its unions have been far apart on staffing issues and health care benefits.  Red Cross and union leaders have agreed to sitdown for four days of talks later this month. 

The suspension of the strike should allow for many planned blood drives to go ahead this weekend, including the Spirit of America event this Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, which was one of the largest blood donation events in the nation last year.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.