(Chicago, IL) – Funeral industry giant Service Corporation International (NYSE: SCI) has locked out 59 Chicago-area funeral directors and drivers represented by Teamsters Local 727, despite an unconditional offer from the union to return to work.
“SCI has chosen to lock out its employees rather than see them return to serving grieving families in their communities,” said John T. Coli, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 727. “SCI has forced this lockout to get rid of its longtime employees and boost its bottom line. But the Teamsters will continue to fight on behalf of our members for justice, and for a fair and equitable contract.”
Community funeral directors and drivers have been on an unfair labor practice strike since SCI walked away from the bargaining table on July 2. Through 40 hours of negotiations and 50 days on the strike line, SCI has offered only unlawful regressive proposals to the bargaining committee, including the elimination of worker pensions and higher premiums for health care coverage.
The Teamsters resumed contract negotiations for two meetings on Aug. 6 and 8, during which SCI resubmitted its original demands to eviscerate workers’ seniority rights and to eliminate authority of the arbitrator in arbitration decisions. In addition to making an unconditional offer to return to work on Aug. 19, Local 727 previously made movement on issues critical to SCI, including allowing the company to withdraw from the Teamsters’ Pension Fund for an economically equivalent 401(k) plan.
“SCI isn’t interested in employing funeral directors and drivers who honorably serve their communities and deserve dignified working conditions,” Coli said. “SCI wants to give workers as little as possible to maximize profits — even if that means turning its back on men and women who have served the company for decades. SCI’s actions are shameful.”
The labor dispute affects 16 Chicagoland funeral homes, which SCI operates under the Dignity Memorial brand name. A $4 billion corporation based in Houston, SCI owns more than 1,400 funeral facilities and has seen its stock price increase 94 percent in the past two years alone.
Local 727 urges all Chicago-area residents to support community-owned funeral homes as labor actions continue. More than 60 recommended funeral home alternatives can be found online at www.IntegrityInIllinois.com to aid families in affected communities.
SCI’s letter to the Teamsters effectively locking out all bargaining unit employees is available.
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.