Tentative Agreement Reached At HealthNow

July 8, 2011 Updated Jul 8, 2011 at 1:06 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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July 8, 2011 Updated Jul 8, 2011 at 1:06 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) HealthNow, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Local 212 of the OPEIU union issued releases that a tentative agreement has been reached for unionized workers.

Eyewitness News will have more on the details of the new contract, and how both sides were able to come together after a lockout and months of contention.

Below are the official releases from both Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Union.

BUFFALO, NY (July 8,2011)- release from Health Now - After thirty-eight (38) bargaining sessions since February 15, 2011, representatives of HealthNow New York Inc. and Local 212 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) reached a tentative agreement early this morning for a new three (3) year collective bargaining agreement.

“As we stated from the outset, we were determined to resolve our differences at the bargaining table,” said Julie Snyder, Director, Corporate Relations for BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. “After nearly forty (40) hours of bargaining over the last three days, that is precisely what the parties did.”

If ratified, this tentative agreement will end the lock out and employees will be advised by their union of the date of their return to work.

“As in any negotiations, both parties made compromises in order to reach an agreement,” Snyder noted, “In the end, we believe that we have an agreement that is fair to the company and our employees and will help us to better serve our customers.”

“We are very pleased that we have reached a tentative agreement,” Melissa Tucker, Vice President of Employee and Labor Relations, stated, “Obviously, these negotiations were very complex, but we are satisfied with the results.”

The representatives of both parties worked diligently and professionally in order to reach a successful conclusion.

Tentative Agreement Reached With HealthNow New York, Inc.,

(dba Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Western New York)

390 Employees to Return to Work – Subcontracting Issue Resolved

Buffalo, NY – Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), AFL-CIO, Local 212 in Buffalo New York and HealthNow New York, Inc., dba Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Western New York (BCBS of WNY) have reached a tentative three-year agreement.

The agreement ends a lengthy lockout by the company, which began on April 25, 2011. “We are very pleased that the parties were able to reach an agreement through the process of collective bargaining, demonstrating that mutual agreement trumps unilateral action,” said OPEIU International President Michael Goodwin. “We look forward to ratification by Local 212 members and their return to work. “

The OPEIU negotiating committee was led by OPEIU Director of Organization and Field Services Kevin Kistler and Local 212 Business Representative Deana Fox. The agreement will be recommended by the union negotiating committee to the membership, which will meet next week to consider the proposal.

“Congratulations to the bargaining parties for a job well done,” said Goodwin.

ABOUT OPEIU

The Office and Professional Employees International Union represents more than 125,000 members in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. OPEIU represents employees and independent contractors in banking and credit unions, insurance, higher education, shipping, hospitals, medical clinics, utilities, transportation, hotels, administrative offices and more.

Professional organizations and Guilds affiliated with OPEIU are a diverse group that includes physicians, pharmacists, chiropractors, appraisers, podiatrists, clinical social workers, hypnotists, teachers and helicopter pilots.