MI Red Cross Workers May Strike over Health Benefits

September 2, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Differences over employee health benefits could send hundreds of Red Cross nurses and blood collection workers to the picket lines next week.

The Petoskey News-Review reports that the Lansing-based Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 459, along with the Teamsters Local 580 which represents 270 Red Cross nurses and blood collection staff in Michigan, sent notice to the American Red Cross that they may enact a work stoppage beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, September 7, if the union and Red Cross cannot come to an agreement or have not started good faith bargaining. 

None of the disaster service unions have issued work stoppage notices. 

Employees have been without a contract since April 2009 and the two sides are at a disagreement over health benefits. According to the news report, the unions are refusing a contract offer that pays 90% of premiums and 80% for dependents, which non-union staff members receive. The unions say the Red Cross could find a better health care plan for employees.  

Lynne Meade, president of Teamsters Local 580 told the News-Review that while union members are willing to pay more for their health care packages, the quality of the coverage, which includes a higher deductible and higher out of pocket maximum, is a concern.