Teamsters

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Locked-out Teamster funeral directors rally against SCI

Funeral home workers rally on 100th day of lockout.

Locked-out Teamster funeral home employees marked their 100th day on the picket line with a rally before a Chicago-area funeral home yesterday. The rally was attended by political, religious and labor leaders who support the Teamsters' fight to preserve health care and retirement benefits. Their employer, funeral giant Service Corporation International, wants to strip those away.

SCI locked out 59 funeral directors and drivers from 16 of the 59 funeral homes it owns in the Chicago area. As Teamster Angela Anello explained to Inside Booster:

All we are asking for are salaries and benefits that are commensurate with those at the other funeral homes in the Chicago areas.... 

(We) agreed to a pay cut. The next deal, we took a pay freeze for three years. Now, they want to tout a generous pay increase but also decrease our benefits. 

John T. Coli.

The event featured guest speakers, including Teamsters Joint Council 25 President John T. Coli, state Sen. Bill Cunningham, state Rep. Kelly Burke, Chicago Fire Department chaplain Fr. Thomas Mulcrone, state Sen. Tom Cullerton, Teamsters Central Region Vice President Becky Strzechowski and Chicago Alderman Nick Sposato.

Teamsters Local 727, which represents the workers, explains:

With more than 1,400 funeral facilities, SCI is valued at approximately $4 billion and has seen its stock price rise 94 percent in just two years. 

Local 727 urges all Chicago-area residents to support community-owned funeral homes. Recommended funeral home alternatives can be found at www.IntegrityInIllinois.com.

Anello said SCI's business model relies on the local funeral directors, who are part of the community:

Becky Strzechowski

We know the families. We pride ourselves on following up on all the details for the families we serve. We also have strong relationships with all the area churches and clergy... 

The replacements are not from here. They don't even know the simple things such as how to get from point A to point B.... 

While our work is physically demanding and we work very long hours, it's very rewarding work. We all do it because we want to. Our job is to ease the transition from life to death and to make it easier to bear. There are hundreds of details to get it right. Hiring scabs is like turning this into a factory.

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