Several hundred people, some bused from Cleveland and Lansing, rallied on the steps of Government Center downtown today in support of striking American Red Cross employees.
Speakers from the unions said their complaints include demands for breaks in long days, safety, and an affordable health-care plan.
Local 75 of United Food and Commercial Workers has been working without a contract for four years, and now about 130 members of the union have been on strike since March 27.
Among the speakers was U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) who congratulated the crowd on “standing up for a right that was won first in this part of America, a right to a fair contract, to bargain for the worth of your work, to give it legal standing, and to make that rightful contract enforceable by law.”
Diane Haynes, a collections technician who has been with Red Cross in Toledo for 18 years, said, “we’re just asking for a fair contract. We do not expect to get rich from Red Cross but we expect to be treated fairly.”
Ian Thigpen, communications program manager for the Toledo chapter of the American Red Cross, said management has put forward a proposal and is waiting for a response.
“We’re eager to get back to our life-saving mission,” Mr. Thigpen said. He said the Red Cross is continuing to function with nonunion employees.
The striking workers conduct blood drives across an 11-county area in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
Red Cross workers are also on strike in Michigan, which covers the state except for Detroit, and the Cleveland area, which one striker said covers an area of 19 counties.
The Red Cross employees went on strike March 27 after nearly four years without a contract.
Bill Dudley, a spokesman for UFCW Local 75, rallied the crowd with a chant of “one day longer, one day stronger.”