CUPE 1816, representing more than 600 employees of the benefits provider Pacific Blue Cross (PBC), filed 72-hour strike notice today, putting the union in a possible strike position on Thursday, May 4.

The parties met on Sunday to try and reach a fair collective agreement, but there remain significant differences regarding retiree benefits and wages.

“We are still in the process of trying to resolve the Employer’s application for a declaration that certain BC Life employees are engaged in essential services,” said CUPE 1816 President Beth Miller.

“Obviously, this process could delay our ability to take job action. However, we have every intention of defending our members’ contract rights with no concessions.”

The parties are presently scheduled to bargain on May 9, with additional dates scheduled for May 16, May 17, June 7, and June 8. However, CUPE 1816 has informed the Employer that the union’s bargaining committee is available to meet before May 9.

Pacific Blue Cross provides health, dental, life and disability coverage for more than two million individuals and union members working primarily in education, municipal, health care and government. CUPE 1816 members working at PBC represent a wide range of job classifications including underwriters, benefit examiners, disability claim representatives, benefits administrators and call centre employees.