Update: The American Red Cross contract was ratified nationally on October 2, 2015.
American Red Cross workers of Local 521 came together with union colleagues from across the county to reach the first ever national union contract. This win stands as a shining example of the power of collective bargaining that happens only when we have a union.
For the first time, thousands of workers represented by eight different unions formed a coalition, called the American Red Cross Union Coalition, to strengthen collective bargaining on a national scale. Before forming the coalition, Red Cross workers, including the 61 workers represented by SEIU Local 521, were bargaining separately– resulting in dozens of smaller contracts bargained with comparatively weaker strength and less uniformity for workers with equal duties.
Currently pending ratification by the membership, if the contract is approved, workers would win more uniform wage increases and benefits including:
- Six percent wage increase over three years;
- $1,000 signing bonus; and a
- union-run healthcare plan that effectively transfers control over healthcare plan rates and benefits from the employer to the union members.
Reaching a strong contract for thousands of workers spread out across the county was a complex collaborative process that required many hours worked and miles traveled. Some members traveled to the Red Cross headquarters in Washington D.C. to participate in the bargaining process.
“I was asked to represent my colleagues, so I stepped up– and the experience was amazing. At the bargaining table, I was able to give input about provisions in our national contract. At the Capitol, I connected with other union workers and leaders who shape our work, while building relationships within our community. This is a very good contract to start, and better than we had before. I hope to continue being a negotiator until I retire.”
– Judy Esteban, American Red Cross Blood Services Chapter
The tentative agreement was unanimously passed by members of the Red Cross Chapter. Because of the far reaching success of this national contract, it is likely a model that will be used to boost workers in a bigger way in future.
The power of our union is in its numbers. Become a member today!