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Red Cross, union leaders reach agreement in Conn.

November 13, 2011

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FARMINGTON, Conn.—The American Red Cross and union leaders reached a tentative agreement Sunday that, if ratified, could end a strike of less than two weeks and send about 200 employees at the blood services division in Connecticut back to work.

The two sides reached a contract agreement that would cover phlebotomists, nurses, lab technicians and others represented by Local 3145 Council 4 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The previous contract expired March 2009.

Red Cross spokeswoman Donna Morrissey and Council 4 spokesman Larry Dorman said the two sides also reached an agreement to settle an issue before the National Labor Relations Board that would provide each union member with a $600 settlement payment and a $300 signing bonus.

Dorman said both the contract and settlement agreements will require approval by union membership, and the NLRB will have to sign off on the settlement. He said the union leadership recommended ratification and will schedule a vote soon.

The contract agreement would take effect the date of ratification and expire March 31, 2015. It calls for a 2 percent raise the day workers ratify the agreement, a 2.5 percent raise in each of the first two years of the contract, and a 1 percent raise the final year. It also calls for a 1 percent step increase the first year.

Workers went on strike Nov. 3 after negotiations failed to yield a new contract. At the time, Morrissey said the AFSCME wanted the Red Cross to accept a proposal that called for a lump sum bonus, a 3 percent annual wage increase in each of three years and other demands. Dorman would not comment then on the contract terms under negotiation.

At issue before the NLRB is its ruling against the Red Cross in union complaints that it tried to unilaterally impose changes in health care benefits and pensions and refused to furnish information needed for negotiations. The Red Cross appealed the NLRB ruling.

Morrissey said the settlement agreement Sunday calls for AFSCME to withdraw its complaints and the Red Cross to abandon its appeal.

When workers went on strike this month, Morrissey predicted it would disrupt operations in the state at a time when blood supply was low. She said the Red Cross made contingency plans to bring blood in from out of state.