Funeral Industry News

Alderwoods Funeral Homes, Operated By Industry Giant SCI, Force Unfair Labor Practice Strike

July 7, 2011

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Alderwoods Funeral Homes, Operated By Industry Giant SCI, Force Unfair Labor Practice Strike

CHICAGO — The funeral industry giant that operates four Alderwoods funeral homes in the Chicago area has forced Teamsters Local 727 to file unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board and its employees to strike. The union-represented funeral directors, embalmers and livery drivers voted overwhelmingly to strike late Tuesday night.

“Our members don’t want to go on strike, but they have been pushed into a corner,” said John Coli Jr., President of Teamsters Local 727, which represents more than 450 Chicagoland funeral industry workers. “This corporation has unmercifully bullied these hardworking men and women for years.”

Teamsters Local 727 filed unfair labor practices charges against the company for bad faith bargaining and direct dealing. Alderwoods is owned by Service Corporation International (NYSE: SCI) and operates under the Dignity Memorial brand name. The Houston, Texas-based corporation is the largest provider of death-care products and services in North America, operating more than 1,800 funeral homes nationwide.

The 16 Alderwoods employees are set to walk out on Tuesday, July 12. Teamsters Local 727 already has been taking steps to notify the public of the labor dispute. The union is operating a hotline at (847) 696-7500 to direct families to alternative locations to make funeral arrangements.

“We care about these families, so we’re taking time to tell them about the situation,” said Alderwoods funeral director Thomas Stechmiller, who has worked at Mount Auburn Funeral Home for 14 years. “Some of us have spent decades living and working in these communities. We’ve built relationships. It’s shameful that Alderwoods is going to damage families’ lives in this way.”

The four funeral homes that will be affected by the labor dispute are: Weinstein Funeral Home, 111 Skokie Blvd., Wilmette, IL Lauterburg-Oehler Funeral Home, 2000 E. Northwest Hwy., Arlington Heights, IL Oehler Funeral Home, 2099 Miner St., Des Plaines, IL Mount Auburn Funeral Home, 4101 S. Oak Park Ave., Stickney, IL

SCI also owns 17 other Dignity Memorial funeral facilities in the Chicago area, and those locations could be affected by the labor dispute as well.