Service Corporation International and Teamsters Local 727 to Enter Mediation over Contract Dispute
Friday, October, 24, 2014
Service Corporation International (SCI), one of the largest Funeral Industry companies in the world, has agreed to enter mediation with one of its largest employee unions, Teamsters Local 727 in the Chicago area. The contract affects 26 funeral directors and drivers working at Alderwoods funeral homes owned and operated by SCI. The union and SCI have met eleven times so far trying to negotiate a new three-year contract; the previous contract expired in June.
SCI is seeking to end job security, limit the power of arbitrators in disciplinary actions, reduce and eventually eliminate seniority rights, end guaranteed employment for drivers, and keep the power to cut healthcare benefits at their own discretion. Unsurprisingly, the Teamsters object to all of these proposals. Teamsters Local 727 represents 7,000 workers in Chicago, of which 500 are funeral workers. SCI operates 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries in the United States. Most of the funeral homes it operates retain the family names of the original owners SCI purchased the business from, making SCI one of the least visible corporate presences in the country.
Neither side indicated the likelihood of compromise on any of the issues being dealt with. The Teamsters appear to be relying on SCI’s dislike of publicity, as people dislike the idea of using a large corporation for the interment of their deceased loved ones, as well as the union’s broad reach within the local funeral industry. SCI has issued no comment, but both sides have been active in negotiations and formal mediation is a common move for deadlocked contract talks.