Blue Cross Blue Shield tentative deal with UAW would increase wages, job security

United Auto Workers striking Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan could be returning to work soon. 

A tentative agreement between the UAW and BCBSM could finally end the 11-week strike that began on Sept. 13.

"I feel great. Today is a good day," said Tina Gates, president of UAW Local 1781. "Most are very happy. I’ve got a bunch of ‘thank you’s,' a bunch of ‘about time,’ a bunch of ‘we stuck it out,’ ‘we held the line,’ it looks like we got some of the things we wanted."

The deal on the table would improve pay, benefits, and job security for UAW-represented employees at BCBSM and Blue Care Network of Michigan – including thousands of dollars in ratification and inflation bonuses, and a dramatic reduction in the time required to reach the maximum pay level, from 22 years to just five.

"At the end of this contract, anybody with 5 years should be at top rate. That is phenomenal," Gates said. "This is historic for any union member regardless of what union you belong to. This is historic for us, the people that do the labor," 

Throughout the strike that lasted for more than 70 days, the union workers have marched under scorching sun, heavy rain, and, more recently, harsh cold and snowfall. Now, the strike is on pause while members at four local UAW offices in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids vote on the deal. 

A verbal agreement on the tentative deal was announced on Tuesday before being formalized on Wednesday.

"On Wednesday, our bargaining teams will meet to formalize our agreement bringing our employees one step closer to returning to work. I congratulate and thank President Fain for reaching out and working directly with me to get to the starting line of the ratification process," said BCBSM President and CEO Daniel Loepp in a statement on Tuesday.

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