(Chicago, Ill.) — Religious leaders throughout the Chicago area have pledged their support for funeral directors and drivers whose employer, Service Corporation International (NYSE:SCI), is forcing to the brink of a labor dispute.
In a letter received June 27, 40 members of Arise Chicago called upon SCI management “to negotiate a fair contract with its employees, the fifty-nine front-line funeral directors and drivers at 16 locations, upon whom families rely for guidance, comfort and reassurance. … We call upon SCI to treat their employees with the same level of integrity that SCI expects their employees to demonstrate to grieving families.”
Teamsters Local 727 has been negotiating a new contract for its 59 members at 16 SCI-owned funeral homes since June 14. No strike date has been set as talks continue. The current contract expires at 12 a.m., Monday, July 1.
Over the course of negotiations, SCI has proposed approximately 40 regressive changes to the current contract, including:
Eliminating the funeral directors’ pension plan
Increasing the cost of health insurance premiums for employees
Wage increases that do not make up for the loss of benefits
Erosion of seniority rights
Taking away bargaining unit work
Elimination of authority of the arbitrator in arbitration decisions
SCI is a Houston, Texas-based $3.8 billion company whose stock has risen more than 50 percent in the last year alone.
The union has created a website (www.integrityinillinois.com) and a hotline (312-206-4123) in the event of a strike against 16 SCI funeral homes in the Chicago area. The site provides grieving families with information about the dispute and community-friendly alternatives for each of the affected SCI homes.
Teamsters Local 727 has represented Chicago’s funeral directors and embalmers since 1946, and it represents more than 6,800 hardworking men and women in the greater Chicagoland area.