Blood collection employees of the American Red Cross voted over the weekend to ratify a tentative agreement reached between the nonprofit and AFSCME Local 3145 following a 10-day strike and three years of negotiations.
The collective bargaining agreement is immediately effective and expires in March of 2015, according to a statement from AFSCME spokesman Larry Dorman.
The contract provides the 200 phlebotomists, nurses, and technicians with an immediate 2 percent raise as well as a 2.5 percent raise in each of the first two years of the contract and a 1 percent raise in the final year. Workers will also receive a 1 percent step increase in the first year.
The Red Cross and the union reached the tentative agreement two weeks ago, ending the strike. However, despite recommending members ratify the agreement, union officials have expressed disappointment that the nonprofit did not concede on health care, pension, and staffing issues.
“This is not an ideal settlement, but it is the best way to move forward and continue advocating for our workers and donors,” said AFSCME Local 3145 President Nancy Newton. “We thank our members for their sacrifice throughout this campaign, and the many AFL-CIO union members and state legislators who have supported us.”
In a statement, American Red Cross spokeswoman Donna M. Morrissey said the agreement was fair to both sides.
“The agreement is equitable and balanced in achieving the needs of both the Red Cross and AFSCME members, and is sensitive to the financial pressures that health care providers and our employees are experiencing in today’s environment,” she said.
The nonprofit will now be able to focus on ensuring there is an adequate blood supply for hospitals and patients in Connecticut, she said.
The agreement also puts to rest an unfair labor practice complaint, which the union filed with the National Board of Labor Relations.
In August an administrative judge found that the Red Cross had broken labor laws when it made unilateral changes to health and pension benefits at a time when there was no contract and without the consent of the union.
The Red Cross appealed the decision, but now that workers have ratified the agreement, the nonprofit has agreed to withdraw the appeal. The agreement will give each union member $600 as a settlement and a $400 signing bonus. In exchange the union has agreed to withdraw the complaint.
However, when the agreement was reached Dorman said the union intended to continue to take steps to raise public awareness of safety and concerns about the way the American Red Cross operates.