Friday, August 2, 2013

Striking funeral directors gain political support

Striking funeral directors in Chicago. 
Striking funeral directors from Teamsters Local 727 in Chicago have gained the political support of such political heavyweights as Mayor Rahm Emanuel,  Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, 12 state lawmakers and three members of Congress: Jan Schakowsky, Michael Quigley and Tammy Duckworth.

The striking funeral directors are fighting SCI Corp. for parity with other Chicago funeral industry professionals.  The $4 billion corporation walked away from negotiations, forcing the unfair labor practice strike after the Teamsters’ contract expired on July 1. SCI's stock rose 56 percent in the last year, but the company proposed eliminating the funeral directors' pension fund, increased costs to health care premiums and zero wage increases for new hires after years of wage freezes for current employees.

Pickets began a month ago at 16 Chicago-area funeral homes, which SCI operates under the Dignity Memorial brand name.

The company has attempted to smear the funeral directors with false statements in the local news media. (Which, by the way, is exactly what you'd expect from a company that hires armed goons to spy on its own employees during negotiations.) Teamsters Local 727 put out a statement:
Despite blatantly false claims by SCI, Teamsters are continuing to lawfully picket outside Dignity Memorial funeral homes throughout the Chicago area. Erroneous stories published by local and national media outlets have carried inaccurate reports made by SCI on the Teamsters’ uninterrupted pickets.
The good news:
Just this week, SCI contacted the Teamsters to potentially resume negotiations, offering two meeting dates. Local 727 has accepted both days.
Stay tuned.