Tuesday, August 20, 2013

SCI locks out Teamster funeral directors in Chicago

Chicago funeral directors offered to go back to work, but SCI locked them out. 
Funeral home giant Service Corporation International (SCI) is refusing to allow 59 Chicago-area Teamster funeral directors and drivers to return to their jobs. While the Local 727 members made an unconditional offer to go back to work, SCI won’t let them.

Despite good-faith efforts by the union to reach an agreement on retirement issues and its promise to return to work yesterday, SCI hasn’t budged. It still wants to scrap workers’ seniority rights and eliminate the authority of an arbitrator in arbitration decisions.  The company hasn’t met to negotiate a deal since Aug. 8.

John T. Coli, Local 727’s secretary-treasurer, said the company only wants to move forward on its unlawful regressive proposals:
SCI has chosen to lock out its employees rather than see them return to serving grieving families in their communities. 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.
The labor dispute affects 16 Chicagoland funeral homes, which operate under the Dignity Memorial brand name. Corporate owner SCI is a $4 billion business that owns more than 1,400 funeral facilities and has seen its stock price increase 94 percent in the last two years.

The company has unfairly attacked its own workers for years. Several years ago, SCI hired armed goons to spy on Teamster funeral directors during contract negotiations. Earlier this month, the company attempted to smear the funeral directors with lies in the local news media, and for decades it has been embroiled in scandals and litigation.

Local leaders are siding with the directors and drivers against the Houston-based corporation. Among those supporting the funeral directors’ and drivers’ efforts are 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.

Coli said SCI isn't interested in employing funeral directors and drivers who honorably serve their communities and deserve dignified working conditions. 
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 workers have been on an unfair labor practice strike since SCI walked away from the bargaining table July 2.