SCI Funeral Director Strike Continues in Chicago, Negotiations End Again With No Deal

August 20, 2013
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Service Corporation International, Inc. declined an offer made today by the Teamsters Local 727 for union members to return to work without an agreed-upon contract. The union has been on strike since July 2, after the two sides did not agree on contract terms during negotiations in June.

“We made a very generous contract proposal, including 9 percent in wage increases over the next two years, yet there is still a substantial difference between the bargaining positions of the company and the union,” said Larry Michael, managing director for SCI Illinois Services, Inc. “Our goal is to come to full and complete resolution with the union as soon as possible. Allowing union members to return to work without a contract in place will only delay successful resolution of this situation.”

Key negotiation issues have included compensation, pension and healthcare.

Compensation

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Despite the fact that a significant number of the funeral directors in this bargaining group already make more than $100,000 per year, the contract offer by the company includes a 9 percent wage increase over the next two years, including 6 percent in the first year and an additional 3 percent in year two.

Pension

The company’s contract offer would replace the Teamsters’ pension fund with a 401K plan, featuring a dollar-for-dollar company match of the employee’s contributions up to the first 4 percent of annual income.

“The Teamsters pension plan has a history of serious underfunding, which creates risks for both employees and the company,” said Michael. “In addition, costs of the pension plan have gone up at such an alarming rate that it reinforces our fears about the overall viability of the fund. The plan also has been a source of rampant litigation initiated by the Teamsters.”

Healthcare

Unlike most Americans, this group of employees has never had to contribute anything to the cost of their own healthcare. The company has proposed covering these employees under the same healthcare plan that applies to its employees throughout the state of Illinois, including Chicago employees that are represented by this same union under a different contract.

“The union’s health care plan requires all employees to participate, including those who may not want or need it, which adds unnecessary costs,” said Michael. “As with other employees participating in our plan, some co-pay is required under our proposal.”

“We have made a very fair proposal to the union and hope this is resolved soon,” said Michael.  “In any case, our highest priority is our client families. We are staffed to continue to serve families with the same professionalism, dignity and quality care they have come to expect from us.”

About SCI Illinois Services, Inc.

SCI Illinois Services, Inc. manages the Dignity Memorial® network of funeral homes and cemeteries across Chicagoland. It is part of Service Corporation International, headquartered in Houston, Texas. For more information about Service Corporation International, please visit our website at www.sci-corp.com. For more information about the Dignity Memorial network, please visit  www.dignitymemorial.com.

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