CHICAGO — Funeral giant Service Corporation International (NYSE:SCI) is once again mistreating its Chicago-area workers by proposing draconian, regressive changes while employing delay tactics and refusing to give Teamsters Local 727 a last, best and final offer for its membership to vote.
Local 727 representatives had nine meetings with the company in May and June to negotiate a new contract for 26 funeral directors and drivers at four Alderwoods funeral homes, which SCI owns and operates. The current three-year contract expired June 30.
“The union has tried to work with management to negotiate and reach a fair agreement, but obviously, SCI has no interest in being fair or reasonable,” said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727. “This corporate bully only wants to exert complete unilateral control over its employees and refuses to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
In its most recent proposal — which it refuses to give to the union in writing — the company is demanding to:
- Eradicate job security
- Significantly limit authority of the arbitrator in any disciplinary decision
- Dismantle seniority rights
- Eliminate guaranteed employment for full-time drivers
- Retain unilateral ability to slash health care benefits at the company’s discretion
Additionally, the company proposed that any wage increases be solely at the discretion of the employer.
“The union will do whatever it takes,” Coli said. “If SCI thinks we are just going to roll over, then they are grossly underestimating the commitment the union has to our members and this bargaining unit.”
SCI locked out 59 Local 727-represented funeral directors and drivers from August 2013 to January of this year at 16 Chicago-area corporate-owned funeral homes. In May, Coli denounced SCI at its annual shareholders meeting in Houston.
“SCI is a publicly traded company valued at nearly $5 billion and its shareholders deserved to hear the truth,” Coli said. “Employers cannot be allowed to boost their bottom line on the backs of working families. Companies as big and profitable as SCI need to be held accountable to their investors, their customers and their workers, especially when making reckless decisions that jeopardize the livelihoods of all three.”
Houston-based SCI operates more than 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries in North America, many of which still bear the names of families that independently owned them for generations. Following last year’s lockout, SCI has already lost more than $3.5 million in new business at Dignity Memorial funeral homes throughout Chicagoland.
Teamsters Local 727 represents more than 7,000 hardworking men and women, including nearly 500 funeral industry workers, in the Greater Chicago area.