Corporate Bully SCI Using Cook County Courts to Further Public Relations Campaign
CHICAGO, Sept. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For more than 80 days, Illinois funeral directors and drivers represented by Teamsters Local 727 have continued to lawfully picket 16 Chicago-area funeral homes operated by industry giant Service Corporation International (SCI).
Since pickets began on July 2, SCI has continued its history of bargaining in bad faith with its employees, even after meeting for ongoing negotiations on Sept. 17. Funeral directors and drivers oppose the corporation's attempt to eliminate worker pensions and union-sponsored health insurance and have remained on the picket line — a right the Circuit Court of Cook County preserved for workers on Sept. 19.
"SCI is blatantly and cynically using the Cook County Circuit Court to fuel its anti-worker media relations campaign," said John T. Coli, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 727. "SCI's request for an injunction is a last-ditch effort to prevent funeral employees from picketing and force them to accept the company's draconian proposals. But SCI has failed. Teamster pickets at SCI-owned funeral homes have continued without interruption since July 2."
In yesterday's ruling, the Circuit Court maintained that Local 727 can continue its lawful pickets throughout the Chicago area. In the nearly 12 weeks since pickets began, no arrests have been made nor have any tickets been issued to funeral directors and drivers during their fight for workplace protections.
Despite an unconditional offer from the union to return to work on Aug. 19, SCI (NYSE: SCI) chose to lock out its employees rather than see them return to serving grieving families in their communities. In addition to preserving their retirement benefits, the 59 funeral directors and drivers are fighting for parity with other Chicago funeral professionals.
"Our members have every right to stand up to this corporate bully, and to do so in a peaceful and lawful way," Coli said. "That's exactly what the Teamsters will continue to do until SCI treats its workers with the dignity and respect they deserve."
As North America's largest corporate provider of death-care services, SCI commands approximately 13 percent of the market share in the funeral industry. Its stock has risen 94 percent in the last two years alone. Operating under the Dignity Memorial brand name in Chicago, SCI is valued at approximately $4 billion.
Teamsters Local 727 has represented Chicago's funeral directors and embalmers since 1946, and it represents more than 6,800 hardworking men and women across Chicagoland.