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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan workers strike

Blue Cross Blue Shield would undergo major changes under proposed legislation.
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Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Lafayette in Detroit.

More than a thousand Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan workers are on strike.

UAW union members hit the picket lines after the old contract expired Wednesday morning. Outsourcing of jobs and wage disparity are among the issues on the table.

“Our primary goal was to abolish the multi-tiered pay structure, a system that currently requires a staggering 22 years for an employee at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to reach pay parity,” wrote UAW spokesman Jonah Furman. “ Such a system is untenable for our union brothers and sisters.”

The striking workers include those who work in call center jobs and claims processing.

On its website, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan says telephone assistance will be available, although hold times may be longer than normal.

“Blue Cross has put contingencies in place to enable our company to continue to provide services to providers, group customers and our millions of members around the nation,” wrote Helen Stojic, a BCBSM spokeswoman.

The UAW strike against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan comes two days before another contract deadline for the union against Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.