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Support for Red Cross pickets asked

I am a member of SEIU 1199, employed by the American Red Cross, greater Alleghenies Region, Tri-State Division.

As many of the readers may or may not know, the Tri-State Division of this region is on strike. We were forced out on strike on December 16, 1999.

With all the media coverage, things can sometimes become confusing.

I would like for your readers to know our point of view. Red Cross management has demanded workers take cuts in benefits, affecting vacation days and sick days.

Management also wants to raise the premiums on workers' health insurance each of the three years of the proposed contract.

They have also proposed wage cuts of up to half of their current wages for some employees.

My fellow union members and I do not think we have asked too much of the Red Cross management.

The Tri-State Division has operated in the black for the last three years, since our last contract.

We should not have to accept concessions.

Our economic demands are to maintain current benefits and to secure a yearly wage increase.

Our request of the local people is a simple one. Please do not donate blood until the Johnstown management comes back to the table and negotiates a fair and just contract with us.

And don't let the management in Johnstown lead you to believe that this will cause a major blood shortage. This is not true.

They will simply have to buy the blood from the other Red Cross regions to meet the needs of the hospitals.

If the blood supply is at a critical level, as the Red Cross has stated, then why won't they negotiate a fair contract so that we can return to work?

A settlement would allow our hospitals to have local blood from local donors instead of bleeding parts of West Virginia dry to support the strike situation.

Please honor our picket lines and call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or 1-800-54-BLOOD and tell Red Cross management to give the Tri-State Division a fair and just contract, immediately.

Kelli Jenkins

South Point, Ohio

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