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OPEIU, Local 153 Announces New Contract with BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York

November 10, 2018

Overwhelming majority of OPEIU, Local 153 membership voted to ratify new three-year contract that maintains labor agreement through April 25, 2022.

Buffalo, NY – The 450 employees at BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, members of OPEIU, Local 153, overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, AFL-CIO Representative Mark Jurenovich and President and CEO David W. Anderson announced today.

As the only health plan in Western New York with a unionized workforce, labor relations remain at a high point, with trust, respect and mutually aligned goals reflected in the decision to proceed with a new contract more than five months prior to the expiration of the current CBA, union and management officials agreed. The announcement comes five years after Anderson’s arrival at the company, and his pledge to focus on employee engagement and leveraging labor relations to grow the health plan’s business relationships.

The new agreement includes annual wage increases to bargaining unit members, while maintaining the current benefit offerings outlined in the contract through the term of the extension. The contract ratification provides labor and management the ability to focus on company goals and the busy health insurance open-enrollment period currently underway.

“The employees represented by OPEIU, Local 153 are brand ambassadors for BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. They are on our front line in good-paying, high-benefit jobs in our customer service and administrative areas,” Anderson said. “I’m pleased that labor provided this opportunity and that our management team has achieved a remarkable milestone for our company’s labor relations.”

“It is a well-established concept that the parties’ day to day relationship will often ‘set the table’ for the tone and tenor of upcoming negotiations for a successor agreement.  That was certainly true here,” stated Mark Jurenovich, OPEIU Business Representative.    “The fact that Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Western New York values their employees to this degree, and considers them as true partners in their mission to provide a quality product for its many subscribers in Western New York made it possible to reach this new three year agreement.”

The 450 bargaining unit employees covered are comprised of office and clerical staff who work at the health plan’s Buffalo headquarters.

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, a division of HealthNow New York Inc., is the region’s largest health insurer, with 1,900 employees and 800,000 members. It is the only health insurance provider in the region with a unionized workforce and has a 62-year history with OPEIU.

The Buffalo Central Labor Council honored BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York for its commitment to labor in the workforce and community in December 2017.

The company opened its 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 over 1,900 people to the heart of Buffalo each day and has an estimated annual economic impact of $4 billion.  The company is the only local health plan based in the City of Buffalo.

BlueCross BlueShield provides health-care services and innovative funding arrangements. It maintains an outstanding reputation for services and an unwavering commitment to member satisfaction as a community-based, not for profit health plan.