Michigan Insurance Workers End 80-day Strike
DETROIT (AP) _ Union workers ended an 80-day strike today at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan after approving a three-year contract and were met at their jobs by breakfast and banners.
″I’m thrilled to be back,″ said claims processor Cathy Schechter. ″I just bought a new house.″
United Auto Workers union spokesman Reg McGhee said the 4,000 workers, members of four UAW locals in Detroit, Southfield, Grand Rapids and Lansing who walked off the job Sept. 1, voted overwhelmingly over the weekend to approve the pact.
″Workers will receive a $1,500 ratification bonus in December,″ McGhee said. ″In the second year of the agreement, they receive a 3 percent raise and in the third year of the agreement, they receive a 4 percent raise.
″Management had sought to eliminate the annual raises and had wanted to substitute lump-sum payments.″
Workers made gains in health benefits, sick time provisions, union representation, transfer rights, the employee assistance program and training for new technology, McGhee said.
The union also strengthened seniority provisions for employees working outside Detroit and won greater influence in determining job classifications, he said.
A company flier sent to employees Friday announced that a continental breakfast would be served when they returned today.
″We’re trying to make all of the bargaining unit people who have been away from the corporation for some 80 days now welcome back to the workplace,″ said company spokesman Richard Femmel.
″And, so, we’ve put up banners saying ‘It’s Better Together’ to indicate that we’re glad to have a unified workforce again, that we need them,″ he said.