Grandmother Finds Niche in Coffin Business
CHICAGO — Service Corporation International (NYSE: SCI), the funeral industry giant that owns four Alderwoods funeral homes in the Chicago area, has forced its employees to strike and Teamsters Local 727 to file unfair labor practice charges. The funeral directors, embalmers and livery drivers represented by Teamsters Local 727 are set to walk out at 10 a.m. Tuesday, and the union is hosting a rally to show support for its members.
“Our members don’t want to go on strike, but the company has backed them into a corner,” said John Coli Jr., President of Teamsters Local 727, which represents more than 450 Chicagoland funeral industry workers. “This corporation has been pushing around these hardworking men and women for far too long.”
Teamsters Local 727 filed unfair labor practices charges against the company for bad faith bargaining and direct dealing. Alderwoods is owned by 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 four Chicago-area 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
Teamsters Local 727 will hold a rally in support of striking Alderwoods employees from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Weinstein Funeral Home.
“Teamsters from across Chicago will stand in solidarity with these men and women,” Coli said. “They are not alone in this fight. They have the full support and power of the Teamsters Union behind them.”
SCI owns 17 other Chicagoland Dignity Memorial funeral facilities, which could be affected by the labor dispute.
The 16 Alderwoods funeral directors, embalmers and livery drivers voted overwhelmingly to strike July 5. Since then, Local 727 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.
“Taking care of families is important to us; it’s why we do what we do,” said Alderwoods funeral director Thomas Stechmiller, who has worked at Mount Auburn Funeral Home for 14 years. “We’ve dedicated our lives to this job, and we’ve built relationships with so many families over the years. Alderwoods wants to throw all of that away just so they can put more money in their pockets.”