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Red Cross Workers in Midwestern Local Win First Contract

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Red Cross Negotiating Team

ABOVE: Debbie Carlson hugs Field Director Jo Pels after winning tentative agreement on the first contract for 300 Red Cross workers.

RED CROSS NEGOTIATING TEAM (left to right): Annette Potter, Sue Fuchs, Theresa Johnson, Nicole Wamma, Debbie Carlson, Tim Como. Not pictured: Michael Peterson. (Photos: Lynette Kalsnes, Council 5)

With an overwhelming vote, American Red Cross workers in AFSCME Local 3931 (Council 5) have ratified their first contract, winning higher starting pay, across-the-board increases, consistent and collaborative work schedules and a fair grievance process.

The agreement, ratified July 31, runs through September 2018 and guarantees rights and benefits for nearly 300 phlebotomists, couriers, material coordinators and other front-line workers across Minnesota, western Wisconsin and eastern South Dakota.

“My co-workers and I organized with AFSCME to gain a voice at work,” said Michael Peterson, Collection Tech III and a member of the negotiating team. “In our very first contract, we made significant improvements.”

Michael Peterson, negotiating team member (Photo: Marybeth Juetten, Council 5)
Michael Peterson, negotiating team member (Photo: Marybeth Juetten, Council 5)

He went on to say, “A big issue with us was constantly changing schedules and inconsistent hours. We won language that requires our employer to provide a three-week notice of schedule changes and to form a scheduling advisory group to collaboratively work on weekend, holiday and out-of-district scheduling.”

Local 3931 is part of a national coalition of labor unions that entered into an agreement with the American Red Cross called the National Addendum. The agreement provides rights and protections for Red Cross workers across the country and contains language preventing Red Cross managers from discouraging their employees from forming unions.

Red Cross workers voted last October to join Local 3931 following a comprehensive organizing campaign by Council 5 and local Red Cross workers.