Union worker reponds to Red Cross boss’ letter
I am writing in response to the letter printed from Sharon Jaksa, CEO of the American Red Cross, concerning the current work stoppage.
We care about our work, our donors, and the mission of the Red Cross blood services. Our products save lives, so there would be no work stoppage without good reason.
Jaksa is correct that health benefits are the biggest obstacle to a new contract; however, she left out important details. Currently, management’s proposal on health care includes the removal of bargaining powers, an increase in out of pocket costs, and nothing concerning health care after 2012.
When questioned about the lack of specifics after 2012, management stated that, “no business in their right mind would drastically change benefits to the detriment of its employees.”
The problem is that management has already shown that they will change benefits without regard to labor laws.
A federal court found the Red Cross guilty on multiple counts of violating labor laws when benefits and contract agreements were unlawfully eliminated or denied outright. This creates a dilemma whereby we are asked to trust an entity that has proven untrustworthy.
Of greatest importance to our community is the proposal by Red Cross to remove the requirement for registered nurses to be present at blood drives. This is an unacceptable proposal as it directly affects the safety of our donors.
Finally, Jaksa is also correct that many other bargaining units have signed contracts with terms we have dismissed. What she is not telling you is that some of the units contain as few as two members and were ‘bullied’ into signing.
Of those large enough to resist, 11 of the 18 were on strike prior to agreeing on a contract. Therefore, we appreciate the support we have received from the community and hope to resolve this for the good of everyone.
Cheryl Albert OPEIU 459 members Charlevoix
Matthew Hazelwood’s the man, leader will be dearly missed
After the fact, I expected to write about how wonderful the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra and Chorus’s performance of Carmina Burana was. The performance, however, does not take place until next Sunday, and yet I am writing about it now.
I expected to write about it after the fact because both experience and reason tell me that I will be deeply moved by the level of skill, the level of energy, and the level of commitment of so many people working so well in tandem, under the singular leadership of a single baton. I expected that baton to be held by our dear friend, maestro Matthew Hazelwood, artistic director and conductor of the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra for almost a decade now.
Then the unexpected happened.
As almost everyone in the music-arts community, the world over, now knows, Matthew Hazelwood’s heart failed him last week while Matt was working in Bogota, Colombia, serving in his leadership role of the now world famous Batuta music program, which serves tens of thousands of children in Colombia, and which Matt served with great distinction. Matt regularly traveled between Bogota and Petoskey, leading both music organizations with incredible skill. And suddenly now Matt is gone.