HARTFORD, CT: A strike of American Red Cross blood-collection workers in Connecticut has forced the cancellation of most local blood drives and left the organization fighting to safeguard its golden reputation.
HARTFORD, CT: A strike of American Red Cross blood-collection
workers in Connecticut has forced the cancellation of most local blood
drives and left the organization fighting to safeguard its golden
Reports that blood-collection rates have dropped from 600 to 100 pints
per day since the start of the strike on May 1 have undermined public
confidence in the organization, as have the media’s regular airings of
pro-union messages calling for more respect and better pay. The strike,
involving about 200 employees who lead blood drives across the state, is
the first by Red Cross workers in Connecticut in 25 years.
While local observers believe the Red Cross has responded quickly and
effectively to assuage public fears, they also warn that the
organization needs to present strong reasons for holding out on worker
demands or risk losing its public-service halo.
’The attempts by the Red Cross to meet public needs has kept them from
being established as the bad guy in the press,’ said Andrea Obston,
president of Andrea Marketing Communications in Connecticut. She added
that the group’s strategy seems focused on reassuring the public,
patients and donors that blood supply is unlikely to dry up any time
Late last month, the situation escalated when the AFL-CIO asked its
265,000 state members to boycott blood drives until the contract dispute
’Asking people not to donate blood is a drastic move,’ said Larry Kamer,
managing director of GCI Public Affairs in San Francisco. ’The Red Cross
is missing an opportunity to assign the union leadership some of the
responsibility for calling the public’s health into question.’
The Red Cross has been contacting donors by phone, maintaining an
average of one blood drive per day and spreading word that local
hospitals are being supplemented with out-of-state blood supplies.
’We’ve tried to emphasize to donors and the media that there is a higher
calling here - helping people,’ said Lynn Townshend, communications
manager for the American Red Cross in Connecticut. ’No patient needs
will go unmet.’