PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Red Cross workers, represented by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees Union, at blood banks across the Delaware Valley are hitting the picket line this morning after talks broke down late last night.

Red Cross nurses and other blood donor support staff picketed at 7th and Spring Garden this morning.

According to union spokeswoman Jeanne Otersen, those negotiations broke down, because, she says, national Red Cross is ignoring local issues while focusing on a $2-billion dollar bottom line.

“It has a mandate to take away people’s collective bargaining rights while they refuse to address issues of staffing and safety,” Otersen says. “People felt that they needed to stand up around the issues of safety and protection for workers and donors.”

But American Red Cross spokesman Anthony Tornetta says they’re just asking union members to take the same cuts that non-union workers have taken.

“We’ve asked for some sacrifices to be made during these tough economic times, and we’re just asking the union to make those same sacrifices,” Tornetta says.

And, he says blood supply won’t be affected, “I can assure you that the hospitals and the patients that are at these hospitals, their needs will continue to be met.”

Tornetta says if anyone is scheduled to give blood today, they should call 1-800-Red-Cross to see if they can still give today, or if they need to reschedule.

Reported by Jim Melwert, KYW Newsradio 1060

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