In an attempt to completely eviscerate employees’ rights and weaken the bargaining unit, funeral industry giant Service Corporation International opened negotiations with Teamsters Local 727 on June 20 by proposing a staggering 90 changes to the contract covering Chicago-area funeral directors, embalmers and drivers.
Meanwhile, the union has proposed only five changes based on members’ demands: 5 percent wage increases, locked-in health care coverage, increase 401(k) company match from 4 percent to 6 percent, the installation of body lifts at each location and a four-year contract term.
“Right out of the gate, SCI is bargaining in bad faith. The union entered these negotiations with our sights set on reaching a fair agreement and forging a more positive working relationship with SCI. But it should come as no surprise that this company has no interest in fairness,” said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727. “This corporate bully has proven time and again that it will stop at nothing to control its employees, and this opening proposal confirms that fact. We are in for another fight.”
Among the 90 radical concessions proposed by SCI are:
- Elimination of Sunday premium for chauffeurs
- Reduction of overtime rights for employees hired before 2007
- New “conflict of interest” provision to strip employees’ ability to work at multiple funeral homes
- Holiday/sick/personal days not considered as time worked
- Elimination of $30 on-call fee
- Mandatory work assignments
- Splitting up sick and personal days with additional restrictions, including no pay outs or carry-over
- Dividing the seniority list into North and South lists
- Ability to give merit wage increases to whomever the company sees fit
- Reduction of benefits for disabled employees
- Assignment of non-union workers as second person on removals
- Trippers can be terminated if they don’t work three days in a month
- Expanded discipline/discharge language to give the company more reasons to terminate employees
- Expanded management rights clause
- New “zipper clause,” which would waive the union’s right to use the company’s past practices in grievances and arbitrations.
- Requiring advance written approval from management for union representatives to visit members on the job
SCI locked out funeral directors and drivers from August 2013 to January 2014 at 16 corporate-owned Chicago-area funeral homes following a six-week strike. SCI (NYSE:SCI) operates more than 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries in North America, many of which still bear the names of families that independently owned them for generations.
The union and SCI management are scheduled to resume negotiations June 23. The current contract expires June 30.
If you have questions, contact your Local 727 business representative, Nick Micaletti, at (847) 696-7500 or [email protected].