BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is moving 40 jobs to its downtown Buffalo headquarters from the insurer’s offices in a Philadelphia suburb, company officials announced Wednesday.
Top officials from the insurer, city government and labor unions presented the move as a sign of BlueCross BlueShield’s commitment to Buffalo, the continued revival of the downtown business sector and the value of the strong working relationship between the company and its unionized workforce.
“This decision adds concretely to the perceived Buffalo renaissance in a way that will keep BlueCross BlueShield’s leadership over the past decade going,” David W. Anderson, the insurer’s president and CEO, said at a news conference at the company’s West Genesee Street headquarters.
The jobs are in customer service and administration, and the employees will be represented by Local 153, Office and Professional Employees International Union.
The insurer last month reached a three-year contract with the 350 workers in Buffalo represented by that union, and the promise that jobs would be shifted from Pennsylvania to Buffalo was a critical component to getting the deal done.
“This is a union company, it provides our community with good quality jobs at a fair wage and benefits level. This agreement is an absolute positive for Western New York,” said Richard Lipsitz, the Western New York AFL-CIO area labor federation president.
BlueCross BlueShield is the only insurer in the region with unionized workers.
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown also spoke at Wednesday’s event, lauding BlueCross BlueShield’s decision to build its headquarters on a former brownfield site and saying the move of 40 jobs back to the region sends another positive message to the rest of the business community.
BlueCross BlueShield has more than 1,400 employees in Buffalo today and will have about 150 employees in Blue Bell, Pa., following the move.
The 40 jobs, which are in BlueCross BlueShield’s self-funded business, were moved to Blue Bell after BlueCross BlueShield acquired Brokerage Concepts, a third-party health plan administrator, there in 2006.
Anderson said after the news conference that the 40 employees in Pennsylvania will be given the opportunity to move to Buffalo if they wish. For those who don’t, the insurer will hire locally to fill the positions. The job-relocation process should be completed by the end of the year, he said.