August 20, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—About 30 1199SEIU healthcare workers picketed outside the NYPD’s police academy on East 20th Street and 3rd Avenue on Tuesday because they’ve been working for the New York Blood Center without a labor contract since June.
The center provides critical services for millions of New Yorkers, as fellow New Yorkers donate blood at different donation center locations throughout the city, as well as in the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Young people and 1199SEIU retirees joined the 30 workers on the picket line. In the accompanying video, we interviewed active 1199SEIU member Sam Phipps who works as a donor specialist for the NY Blood Center.
“We’re picketing here today because we want a new contract because everything just keeps going up. We need a contract,” said Phipps.
It turns out that there was a special blood drive on Tuesday at the police academy in the Gramercy Park neighborhood where gray-shirted recruits would have the opportunity to donate blood. Phipps noted 1199SEIU members collect blood for the NY Blood Center in a variety of settings, including schools, law firms and department stores.
When asked if there was a need to call the cops on the center, Phipps said that wasn’t necessary.
“What they’re doing is not criminal, but what they are doing is basically self-serving,” Phipps said.
Tamara Scarlet has been working for the center for 17 years. She said she likes her job, and so wants the Center to work towards reaching a fair agreement with the union.
“They need to give us a fair contract. We need to feed our families; they pretty much want to take everything away from us that we’ve worked so hard to gain,” said Scarlet.
Just before going back to work, the workers had to fill out a particular form. Donald Crosswell, a 1199SEIU VP, explained that the workers would be filling out the form to cast their votes over whether the union should authorize a strike.
“We’re passing a strike vote form today that basically authorizes the negotiating committee to strike this employer if we don’t have a good contract. We’ve been at the bargaining table and this employer wants so much giveback that we would end up with no contract. They want us to pay for our contract, and we simply cannot do that,” said Crosswell.