Red Cross nurses strike in SL

Despite picketers outside of the First Baptist Church's blood drive Thursday, Pastor Doug Bytwerk was determined that the flow would go on. Bytwerk said he learned about a week ago that striking American Red Cross employees may picket the event, but he said his church supports Red Cross efforts.
Marie Havenga
Apr 13, 2012

About a dozen Red Cross employees carried signs and marched outside the church, 118 E. Exchange St., in a campaign against what they call “unfair labor practices" by the Red Cross.

The strike has been going on against the Great Lakes Blood Services Region since March 30, according to Muskegon resident and local strike leader Cindy Krieger — and longer in other regions. She said Red Cross blood drive employees have not had a new contract since 2008 and haven't had a raise in five years.

Krieger said officials at the state level are powerless because national Red Cross leaders want to handle the negotiations. Talks broke down again on Thursday, according to news reports.

Chief concerns of the striking mobile blood drive nurses are understaffing, cuts in health care benefits and blood supply safety.

Spring Lake Township resident Sandra Lalumandiere said she misses work, but that Red Cross employees need to take a stand.

“I don't just speak for myself,” Lalumandiere said. “We would rather be working. We love our donors and we like what we do. This is not about us making more money.”

Spring Lake Township residents Sue Collins joined the American Red Cross as a medical assistant almost five months ago after working at Orchard Market in Spring Lake.

“It's hard,” Collins said. “I'd rather be working, but I have to support everyone and be with them.”

Despite the picket line, blood donors continued to trickle into the First Baptist Church.

Sgt. Joe Steinhauer of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department talked to the union members outside of the church on Thursday afternoon.

“I don't think there will be any issues,” Steinhauer said after responding to a call about the picketers. “They're professional people.”

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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