(Chicago, IL) – Families throughout Chicagoland are supporting striking funeral directors and drivers by refusing to cross picket lines and transferring their funeral services to worker-friendly funeral homes.
Pickets began July 2 at 16 Chicago-area homes owned by Service Corporation International (NYSE: SCI), which uses the Dignity Memorial brand name. In nearly four weeks on the picket line, funeral directors and drivers represented by Teamsters Local 727 have been approached by dozens of families eager to show their support for the workers.
“By forcing this strike, SCI has placed grieving families in a terrible position,” said John T. Coli, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 727. “The Teamsters cannot thank those families enough who’ve stood alongside workers and realized they don’t have to pay into SCI’s corporate greed and intimidation. Local 727 has been proactive about informing families of more than 60 community-friendly funeral homes that are ready to arrange their funeral services.”
During the last week alone, more than 10 families in Chicago, Oak Lawn and Skokie have approached picketing funeral directors for more information on moving their funeral arrangements to alternative locations and transferring pre-need contracts. The Teamsters have assisted all families to quickly secure new services.
“SCI uses the Dignity logo, but where is the dignity in the inexcusable treatment of their employees engaged in this labor dispute?” asked Janice Lapinski, a longtime resident of Orland Park who has previously used the services of Ridge Funeral Home in Chicago.
“These funeral directors are so kind and so generous, always willing to help any member of our community,” added Linda Stearns, a 40-year resident of Oak Lawn whose family has used the Blake-Lamb Funeral Home for generations. “Until these men and women return to work, families need to go somewhere else. You won’t get the service right now that you got before.”
On July 22, multiple families with tentative arrangements at SCI-owned Blake-Lamb opted to hold funeral services at nearby Curley Funeral Home in Chicago Heights. The following day, families with upcoming arrangements at SCI-owned Piser Funeral Home in Skokie moved to Chicago Jewish Funerals in the same community. Other families with arrangements at Malec and Drake and Son funeral homes in Chicago transferred their services to Colonial Wojciechowski funeral homes in Chicago and Niles.
Out of respect for the departed, the Teamsters have withheld the names of these families.
Striking Teamsters have also reached out to many families who’ve shown their support with donations of flowers and words of thanks for honoring the ongoing pickets.
“Any family who makes the choice to oppose SCI and patronize alternative homes at this time will forever be a friend of the Teamsters,” Coli said. “Funeral directors and drivers you see on the picket line have been pillars of support within their communities for generations and they are so grateful for the resolve Chicago families have shown by transferring their funeral services. Whether or not families stop by the picket lines for more information or just offer a friendly honk as they drive by, the Teamsters are touched by all of the support.”
Since pickets began, more than 90 religious leaders and Chicago clergy have also stood strong with Teamster funeral directors, signing religious appeals to urge SCI to bargain in good faith with the union.
Teamsters Local 727 represents 59 funeral directors and drivers at Dignity Memorial funeral homes across Chicagoland. SCI forced workers out on the unfair labor practice strike nearly four weeks ago. The Teamsters have established a website (www.integrityinillinois.com) and hotline (312-206-4123) to direct families to community-friendly funeral homes not affected by the labor action. A complete list of affected homes is available at the site.
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.