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The Hemophilia Federation of America was contacted this week by the staff at the National AFL-CIO about an ongoing labor issue. About 100 employees at the American Red Cross’ division of Blood Services in and around Philadelphia are on strike. The majority of these workers drive the bloodmobiles the American Red Cross uses to support community blood drives, taking collected blood to their processing facilities.

After a period of internal deliberation and consultation, we as an organization came to the conclusion that commenting in this matter was consistent with HFA’s mission. As many of you are aware, the manufacturers of plasma products collect their own plasma at facilities around the country. It is however, not unusual that the manufacturers (to one degree or another) have to supplement their own collection efforts through the purchase of additional units of blood to keep up with demand. Often the vendor they purchase from is Blood Services at the American Red Cross.

It is our belief that we have one unified blood system, and it’s only as good as its weakest link. Our concerns in the ongoing Philadelphia action have to do with the ability of local replacement workers to deliver blood safely to the processing facilities of the American Red Cross of Pennsylvania/New Jersey. Since this labor action has started, units of donated blood have been deserted by a courier service, and a series of concerns have arisen around the transport, delivery and handling of collected blood. In multiple instances, units in transport were compromised and needed to be destroyed.  HFA does not normally comment about on-going labor concerns or the business practices of vendors servicing our community, however; the extenuating circumstances in this case called out for comment as these events taken together reach a level of sloppiness which threatens the core of the American blood system.

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