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NYSUT Asks Its Membership Across New York To Send An Urgent Message Of Support On Behalf Of Unionized Office Professionals At Bluecross Blueshield Of Western New York - Where Management Is Waging A Blistering Attack On Labor Rights

Published Monday, April 18, 2011 1:00 pm
by NYSUT State Labor Newswire

WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: Your Regional, On-Line Labor Newspaper has been reporting on the Labor problems facing Unionized Workers at BlueCross BlueShield here in Buffalo.  For more information, read WNYLaborToday.com’s latest Labor News Report: 400 OPEIU Local 212-Represented Workers At BlueCross BlueShield Won’t Be Allowed To Return To Their Jobs If A New Contract Is Not Bargained By The End Of April, So Says A Company Spokesman On A Recorded Tape Line That Updates Negotiations.

 

The following Labor News Report appears this week on the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) website (www.nysut.org):

 

(ALBANY) - New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Members are being asked to send an urgent message of support on behalf of Unionized Office Professionals at BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York - where management is threatening a lockout and is waging a blistering attack on Labor Rights.

The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 212 represents 400 BlueCross BlueShield employees in Buffalo.  Its current three-year contract expires April 25th, and management is threatening to lockout the Union if a new deal is not in place by then.

"It's a brazen statement when you're negotiating a contract," Deana Fox, OPEIU Local 212 representative, told WNYLaborToday.com. "It doesn't show much good faith when you talk about locking out your employees.  What does that say about the respect they have for their employees that they can just flip the switch off and say, 'We don't need you anymore?'"

Sources told the Labor News Website that management, as part of negotiations, has put forth a proposal to eliminate worker seniority as a protection against layoffs, and substitute that provision with performance-based criteria.  The company also hopes to do away with flex-time schedules and restrictions on mandatory overtime, use temporary agency employees at will and sub-contract work without restriction or discussion.

The effort by BlueCross BlueShield to weaken, if not outright - bust, Local 212, a member of the AFL-CIO with 700 members across Western New York, comes at a time when Unions and Labor Rights are under attack Nationwide.

Perhaps the most notable of those attacks came earlier this year in Wisconsin, where Republican Governor Scott Walker took aim at dismantling the Collective Bargaining Rights of Public Employees.  The unrest, meanwhile, at BlueCross BlueShield also comes on the heels of a massive demonstration that drew thousands of Unionists — from Teachers and Teamsters to Plumbers and Childcare Workers — to Times Square in New York City on April 9th to voice their support for Labor Rights.

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