After eleven weeks on strike, the UAW has announced a tentative agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network.
The agreement contains historic wins, including the reduction of the wage progression from twenty-two years to five, significant general wage increases, a $6,500 ratification bonus for Blue Cross Blue Shield workers, a $5,000 ratification bonus for Blue Care Network workers and inflation protection bonuses of $1,000 each year of the contract. Negotiators were also able to secure stronger contractual language to protect worker jobs from being outsourced during the life of the agreement.
“Our members have proven that when workers stick together, they can achieve historical gains at the bargaining table.” said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Mock, who also serves as the Director of the union’s Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Department. “There were difficult times during this strike, especially with the cold weather, but our members never gave up hope and they continued to stand with one another for as long as it took to enable our bargaining team to win an equitable contract that our members deserve.”
Workers walked out on strike on September 13 after company negotiators refused to take their demands seriously. The primary issue members wanted addressed during negotiations was ending the multi-tiered pay structure that required workers to acquire twenty-two years of seniority to reach the top pay rate. With the tentative agreement, union negotiators were successful in shortening the wage progression down to just five years.
“Wage progression and job security were concerns that we knew we had to fix during this round of bargaining,” Mock said. “Twenty-two years to reach top pay is unacceptable. Because of our members’ solidarity on the picket lines and our negotiators’ hard work at the bargaining table, we were able to address many of our demands.”
If ratified, the contract will cover approximately 1,300 UAW members from four local unions: Locals 2500 and 1781 out of Detroit, Region 1, Director LaShawn English, and Locals 2145 (Grand Rapids) and 2256 (Lansing) Region 1D, Director Steve Dawes.
Members will remain on strike while the agreement goes through the ratification process.