BCBS of Michigan receives labor complaint over vaccine suspensions

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and its subsidiary, the Accident Fund, received a labor complaint over its COVID-19 vaccination requirements and subsequent employee suspensions, according to the City Pulse

The Dec. 8 complaint was filed by UAW Amalgamated Local 2256, a union representing 300 Accident Fund workers, on behalf of at least 24 workers placed on unpaid leave due to noncompliance with the payer's vaccination guidelines, according to the Pulse

The UAW complaint argues that because federal workplace vaccination mandates are held up in court, the payer is obligated to negotiate with union employees on alternatives to getting the vaccine. 

"This isn't as much about the vaccine as it's about a duty for the company to engage in bargaining over the terms and conditions of employment," UAW Officer Tammy Thompson told the Pulse. "They had leaned on the mandate, and since there's no mandate, it's their obligation to involve us in the discussion."

Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates around the country have been enforcing COVID-19 vaccination mandates, including firing workers who protested the requirements. In Michigan, the affiliate put the employees on unpaid leave, giving them until Jan. 4 to get a shot or provide a valid religious exemption. 

"Our workplace policies and safety protocols have evolved over many months — and our employees have demonstrated, time and again, their flexibility and commitment to manage through these changes," the insurer told the Pulse.

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