BlueCross BlueShield grows jobs in Buffalo
40 Jobs Announced at Buffalo Headquarters
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, the only Buffalo-based health insurer with union members in its workforce, will move 40 jobs from other company operations to its Buffalo headquarters, President and CEO David W. Anderson announced today.
Anderson said the jobs will be in the bargaining unit of Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), Local 153, AFL-CIO. He made the announcement today at a news conference attended by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and local labor leaders.
“These are good-paying, high-benefit jobs in our customer service and administrative areas where we’re seeing growth as the health insurance model shifts to a more direct consumer relationship,” Anderson said. “I’m pleased that we are able to fill this need with positions in Buffalo, adding to our 1,400 associates already here, and helping the region add sustainable jobs.”
BlueCross BlueShield announced April 27 that it had reached a new three-year collective-bargaining agreement with its 350 employees represented by OPEIU Local 153 and that it was ratified by the membership with an overwhelming majority vote.
The added jobs increase bargaining unit membership with 40 new employees. Union members compose about 24 percent of the health plan’s overall workforce.
The bargaining unit employees are mostly customer service, administrative and clerical staff who work at the health plan’s Buffalo headquarters. The jobs, to be moved from other company locations, will first be offered to employees in those locations willing to relocate to Buffalo. However, the majority of these jobs will likely be filled by the Western New York workforce and staffed by year-end.
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, a division of HealthNow New York Inc., is the region’s largest health insurer, with 1,800 employees in five locations, serving 800,000 members. It is the only health insurance provider in the region with a unionized workforce and has a 58-year relationship with OPEIU.
“We are pleased to see our bargaining unit grow in Buffalo and we’re especially happy to see increased hiring for Western New Yorkers and increased economic development for Western New York,” said OPEIU Local 153 Business Representative Robert McLennan.
The company’s lineage can be traced to 1936. In 1992, following several years of competition, Blue Cross of Western New York and Blue Shield of Western New York merged to form the current entity.
“Buffalo residents and business owners are increasingly aware that our city is growing and becoming more economically robust,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. “I thank BlueCross BlueShield, a company that always puts Buffalo first, for making this decision to bring more jobs to Buffalo. It’s yet another testament of its solid commitment and dedication to the people of Buffalo and Western New York. These jobs support families, add buying power and sales, encourage first-time home ownership and generally add to Buffalo’s economic vitality.”
The company opened its new Buffalo waterfront headquarters – built under a Project Labor Agreement – employing members from all 17 unions in the Buffalo Building Trades and Construction Council – in August 2007. The site is the largest LEED® certified building in Western New York and the $110 million project incorporated one of the most extensive brownfield remediation in New York State. Today, it brings 1,400 people to the heart of Buffalo each day and has an estimated annual economic impact of over $3 billion.
In 1996, the company formed a parent corporation – HealthNow New York Inc. to oversee operations in Buffalo, Albany and Endicott. Since that time, additional acquisitions have included Brokerage Concepts Inc. based in Philadelphia, PA and HealthNow Administrative Services in Pennsylvania and Sacramento, CA.
“Buffalo’s labor community and leadership wishes to commend Dave Anderson, his executive team, OPEIU and BlueCross BlueShield’s employees for this decision,” said Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation President Richard Lipsitz. “Strength for unions translates to strength for the region.”
BlueCross BlueShield provides the full spectrum of health-care services and innovative funding arrangements. It maintains an outstanding reputation for services and an unwavering commitment to member satisfaction.