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BlueCross workers reject contract proposal

Union employees at BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York on Friday overwhelmingly rejected a contract proposal and remain locked out of their jobs.

"We'd like to get back to the bargaining table and get our work force back to work," said Deana Fox, business representative for Local 212, Office and Professional Employees International Union.

The union represents 390 of the company's 1,400 employees in Buffalo. They provide customer service, process claims, reproduce documents and do other clerical and support work.

The union urged its members to report to work Tuesday morning following expiration of their contract. But those workers found themselves barred from doing so.

BlueCross BlueShield had submitted what it characterized as a final offer Saturday. It also told the union and a federal mediator that, without a new agreement, the health insurer would not allow employees to work past the old contract's expiration at 11:59 p.m. Monday.

Ninety-six percent of the union employees rejected the final offer in the vote, Fox said.

The union said negotiations for a new three-year contract had stalled over issues that included job security and the ability of the company to outsource or subcontract work now done by the bargaining unit.

Fox said there has been no communication with the company and no new bargaining sessions scheduled since the lockout.

Asked about the situation, BlueCross BlueShield officials said they had nothing more to report on the matter at this time.

e-mail: hdavis@buffnews.com

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