Here Is The Letter SCI Sent To Teamsters Union To End Negotiations And Force Lockout

August 21, 2013
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Below is the letter sent by Service Corporation International to Teamster Union 727 effectively ending negotiations and forcing a lockout.

The company has locked out 59 funeral directors and drivers at 16 Dignity Memorial funeral homes. The employees’ unfair labor practice strike carried on for 50 days before the union made an unconditional offer to return to work on Aug. 19. SCI rejected the offer, effectively ending the strike but forcing a lockout in its place.

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Mr. John Coli Jr.
President

Teamsters Local 727

1300 W. Higgins Road, Suite 111 Park Ridge, IL 60068

Dear John:

I am in receipt of your letter, sent via fax and email this afternoon, in which you make an unconditional offer to return to work on behalf of your membership. Given the stark and substantial differences between our bargaining positions, we have decided to reject that offer, and are implementing a lockout that is effective immediately. We are informing any bargaining unit employees who are still at work now, and escorting them from the premises.

This lockout is in support of our bargaining position. If the Union wishes to end the lockout, it may do so by accepting and ratifying the Company’s last proposal, which was provided to you in writing. Another copy is attached for your convenience.

Sincerely,

Amy S. McDowell Senior Corporate Counsel

We also received the below press release from the Teamster 727 Union:

FUNERAL INDUSTRY GIANT SCI LOCKS OUT CHICAGO FUNERAL DIRECTORS

Pickets Continue As Corporate Bully Locks Doors on 59 Funeral Directors, Drivers

(Chicago, IL) – Funeral industry giant Service Corporation International (NYSE: SCI) has locked out 59 Chicago-area funeral directors and drivers represented by Teamsters Local 727, despite an unconditional offer from the union to return to work.

“SCI has chosen to lock out its employees rather than see them return to serving grieving families in their communities,” said John T. Coli, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 727. “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.”

Community funeral directors and drivers have been on an unfair labor practice strike since SCI walked away from the bargaining table on July 2. Through 40 hours of negotiations and 50 days on the strike line, SCI has offered only unlawful regressive proposals to the bargaining committee, including the elimination of worker pensions and higher premiums for health care coverage.

The Teamsters resumed contract negotiations for two meetings on Aug. 6 and 8, during which SCI resubmitted its original demands to eviscerate workers’ seniority rights and to eliminate authority of the arbitrator in arbitration decisions. In addition to making an unconditional offer to return to work on Aug. 19, Local 727 previously made movement on issues critical to SCI, including allowing the company to withdraw from the Teamsters’ Pension Fund for an economically equivalent 401(k) plan.

“SCI isn’t interested in employing funeral directors and drivers who honorably serve their communities and deserve dignified working conditions,” Coli said. “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 labor dispute affects 16 Chicagoland funeral homes, which SCI operates under the Dignity Memorial brand name. A $4 billion corporation based in Houston, SCI owns more than 1,400 funeral facilities and has seen its stock price increase 94 percent in the past two years alone.

Local 727 urges all Chicago-area residents to support community-owned funeral homes as labor actions continue. More than 60 recommended funeral home alternatives can be found online at www.IntegrityInIllinois.com to aid families in affected communities.

SCI’s letter to the Teamsters effectively locking out all bargaining unit employees is available.

Teamsters Local 727 has represented Chicago’s funeral directors and embalmers since 1946, and it represents more than 6,800 hardworking men and women in the greater Chicagoland area.

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