I was supposed to donate platelets at the Flint Red Cross Donor Center this weekend. My appointment was canceled as more than 200 American Red Cross workers in Michigan went on strike this morning.

Staff members represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union and Teamsters walked out because of a dispute over health care benefits.

The strike affects blood collections in Flint, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Lansing and parts of northern Michigan. The Great Lakes Region requires approximately 700 units of blood per day to satisfy the needs of hospitals and their patients.

Formal talks are not scheduled until the second week of April, but that will probably change with the work stoppage.

Personally, I am hoping that both sides can come to a mutually beneficial agreement soon. The need for blood is critical, and the people who work for the Red Cross do an outstanding job.

I'll be back to donate when this is over.