Over 1,000 workers at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan continue to strike against the company as they demand a new contract that addresses numerous issues, including job outsourcing, wage disparities, and unfair labor practices.
Workers walked off the job on September 13 after company negotiators refused to take their demands seriously.
“Over the years, we have lost so much work,” said Local 1781 President, Tina Gates. “They’ve taken our work and given it to outside contractors. At one point we were over 4,000, 5,000 people (in the union) across the state. Now we have 1,300 people. So, we’re tired of bleeding. We’re tired of them taking our work.”
The biggest issue the UAW wants addressed is ending a multi-tiered pay structure that requires a worker to acquire twenty-two years of seniority to reach the top pay rate.
“These people are the heart and soul of Blue Cross Blue Shield,” said Steve Dawes, director of UAW Region 1D. “They are the ones who take care of the people when they are in the most important time of need in their life. When the CEO of this corporation makes well above $15 million a year and it takes a new hire here 22 years to reach top rate, we have a serious problem with this company.”
“Just like the Big Three, Blue Cross Blue Shield workers are suffering as well,” said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Mock. “The CEOs are making millions of dollars but they refuse to share the pie. No contract, no work. Stop the outsourcing.”
Mary Waters, Detroit City Council at Large, walked the picket line with strikers to help support their cause. “I’m going to be right here standing with my brothers and sisters every opportunity I can get until Blue Cross Blue Shield does exactly what they’re supposed to do. And that’s negotiating in good faith and making sure workers are taken care of and that workers are protected with healthcare and wages.”
In a statement released on Monday, Region 1 Director LaShawn English called on supporters to “contact BCBS via the attached list. Request to speak to a UAW customer service representative immediately. Protest to the company for outsourcing our work, their unfair wages and refusing to provide all UAW employees with retiree healthcare. By standing together, we can ensure that our voices are heard and that our struggle for a fair contract is not in vain.”
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