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Red Cross contract talks to resume Saturday

Contract talks are scheduled this weekend for two American Red Cross unions.  A strike last week idled Red Cross workers in 65 Michigan counties.  

Last week’s two-day walkout ended after union leaders said they received assurances that this weekend’s planned contract talks would be "serious" in nature.  But the unions also scheduled a new strike deadline for next Wednesday. That irked some officials with the American Red Cross.  

Monica Stoneking is a Red Cross spokeswoman.  She says setting a strike deadline for the day after the end of scheduled contract talks suggests that union leaders aren’t serious about reaching a deal. 

“The union representatives may not be going into negotiations with an open mind. They may have their minds made up to go on strike. And we’re hoping that’s not the case.”

A union spokesman says there’s nothing unusual about setting a strike deadline. Red Cross union members have been working without a contract for more than two years. The main issues include health care benefits and workplace rules.

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.