Lakeside Bank 2022.July
7-17-2013-10-32-45-PM-7107445

Local Funeral Directors Strike

Drivers Also Refrain from Going To Work Over Pension Debate

Since July 1, 59 funeral directors and drivers have been on strike at 16 Chicago-area Dignity Memorial chain of funeral homes owned by SCI Illinois Services Inc.

The local funeral homes affected include two in Oak Lawn, Blake-Lamb Funeral Home at 4727 W. 103rd St., and Chapel Hill Gardens South Funeral Home, 11333 S. Central Ave.

On the Southwest Side of Chicago, Funeraria del Angel Sagrado Corazon, 5218 S. Kedzie Ave., and Ridge Funeral Home, 6620 W. Archer Ave., are also affected. Most were family-owned institutions until the 1980s and 1990s until being bought by SCI, a Houston-based company with hundreds of funeral homes throughout the United States and Canada.

Picketers are rotating between 11 of the funeral homes. Among the strikers is Craig Operzedek, a funeral director at Ridge, which was founded by his father, who is now retired. He was joined by fellow funeral directors Esmeralda Ramirez and Monica Rodriguez, holding signs outside Ridge on Monday. One of the main issues is the move by SCI to replace the pension plan with a 401k.

ÒSome of us have been in the business for decades,” said Operzedek, an Oak Lawn resident and 30-year veteran himself. He and the others said they were happy with the pension plan, and did not want to switch to a 401k.

Teamsters spokesperson Brian Rainville said the two sides entered negotiations for a new contract on June 14, and spent 40 hours negotiating about benefits and other issues. But he said the SCI team made an offer that was not much different than what they had previously, Òmembers voted overwhelmingly to go on strike” after the old contract expired at the beginning of the month.

ÒThe ball is in SCI’s court now,” he said.

He said some of the union members had gone without a raise for three years, and some longer than that. Rainville said one of the main sticking points is that SCI wants to do away with the pension plan, and replace it with a 401k retirement plan

He said SCI officials offered a 6 percent raise on a 27-month contract, but said that would only be a 2 percent increase if members put the maximum 4 percent allowable into the 401k. For their part, SCI officials said they said they would match what was put into the 401k. Prior to this, employees did not contribute to their healthcare insurance.

Shannon Quinn, a spokesperson for SCI Illinois, a Glendale Heights-based division of SCI International, said the according to the documents SCI received from the pension managers, as of June it was underfunded by $68 million. But Rainville said it is in good shape and healthy.

In a press release, SCI officials said the funeral directors and drivers were offered a fair contract, including a 6 percent raise the first year of the contract, and 3 percent the second. The company also has proposed giving employees the choice to opt out and receive cash compensation if they decide they do not want or need the Teamsters’ healthcare plan or the legal and educational assistance plan.

ÒThe Teamsters leadership made it very clear that a critical issue is continuation of the pension plan. We have expressed our concern over the history of serious underfunding in this pension plan and the risks it brings to both the company and its employees,” said Larry Michael, managing director of SCI Illinois. ÒThe fund also has been a source of rampant litigation initiated by the Teamsters.”

The press release also noted that due to Ò serious concerns relating to Teamsters’ benefits,” SCI Illinois Services, Inc. filed a lawsuit in federal court in late 2011. That lawsuit is currently pending and involves allegations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO).

Quinn said no negotiations are currently planned, but expects they will be.

ÒWe have made a very fair proposal to the union and hope this situation is resolved soon,” said Michael in the press release. ÒIn any case, our highest priority is our client families. We will continue to serve them with the same professionalism, dignity and quality care they have come to expect from us.

The affected funeral homes are still open, and SCI officials said they are staffed with Òcaring, dedicated professionals, including Illinois-licensed funeral directors.”

ÒWe hope this situation is resolved soon. We offered a very fair contract with a generous wage increase,” said Michael.

The striking funeral directors said they also want to get back to work as soon as possible, but said they do not want to lose any of the benefits they had either.

ÒWe want to be helping people. There was a wake on Sunday, and our place is in there, helping people. But we want to be treated with dignity and respect too,” said funeral director Monica Rodriguez outside Ridge, as a few cars drove by honking in support.

During the strike, the funeral directors and Teamsters Local 727 are asking people who need funeral services but do not want to cross picket lines to visit http://www.integrityinillinois.com. The Web site set up by Teamsters Local 727 explains the grievances and includes a list of alternative funeral homes that are not affected by the strike.

Local News

Richards High School Bands Director Jordan Fransler will be running the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 9, raising money for Miracle Network Dance Marathon. (Supplied photos)

Richards teacher to tackle the Chicago Marathon

By Kelly White As bands director at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Jordan Fransler’s days are filled with education and music, but that’s not all. In his free time, the talented teacher likes to put on his running shoes. “Running became one of my favorite hobbies several years ago. It started out as a…

Red Stars players thank their fans at the end of Sunday's 2-0 win over Angel City to qualify for the NWSL playoffs. The team will be on the road in the postseason. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro Soccer Report: What the hex? Red Stars claim final NWSL playoff spot

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer In a joking attempt to jinx the Chicago Red Stars into losing to or drawing with Angel City in a game with playoff implications, the North Carolina Courage’s twitter account made two references to supposed Chicago Cubs’ hexes. “Rumor has it a guy named Steve Bartman rode into SeatGeek Stadium…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Mount Carmel tested in win over Brother Rice

By Steve Millar Correspondent After Mount Carmel beat each of its first five opponents by 24 points or more, senior quarterback Blainey Dowling thinks it is good the Caravan had to fight to the end against an upset-minded Brother Rice team. Dowling ran for the game-winning 15-yard touchdown with 1:58 left to lift Mount Carmel…

In just its second year as a team, St. Laurence's girls golfers won a regional title. Photo courtesy of St. Laurence

Area Sports Roundup: St. Laurence golfers make history

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer   That didn’t take long. The St. Laurence girls golf program is in only its second year of existence but last weekend celebrated a major accomplishment. Coach Jim Tracy’s troops won the Providence Catholic Class 1A Regional by four strokes, logging a 372 to edge University High (Chicago), which finished…

SXU coach Mike Feminis reacts as the final horn goes off as he earns his 200th career win in a thriller over 18th-ranked Roosevelt. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pigskin Wrap: St. Xavier tops Roosevelt in thriller, gets Feminis career win No. 200

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer Saint Xavier coach Mike Feminis was gunning for his 200th career victory, but it looked more like he might be tagged with his 78th career loss. After wasting a 14-point halftime lead, the Cougars found themselves down six in the closing minute of the Homecoming game Oct. 1 at Bruce…

CRRNH_Carnevil02_100522

Halloween’s dark side

Carnevil on 64th promises grisly, gory, ghoulish frights By Cosmo Hadac Those passing the home at 5716 W. 64th St. this month may see the grave of Pennywise the Clown or Freddy Krueger dancing to the Monster Mash. What started out as a way to celebrate Halloween during the pandemic’s social distancing mandates has expanded…

Joan Hadac

Don’t take senior center for granted

By Joan Hadac Your correspondent in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (708) 496-0265 • [email protected] I’m back. Thank you, Patti Tyznik, for filling in and giving me a week off. I hope this becomes a regular thing! Nominations are now open for officers to serve on the board of directors of the Southwest Side Senior Service Organization,…

John T. Shaw

No civics, weak democracy

By John T. Shaw Editor’s Note: This op-ed was distributed by Capitol News Illinois on behalf of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. I’m preparing to teach a class at Southern Illinois University next spring on restoring American statesmanship and am struck by the critical…

Ray Hanania

Crime will flourish under Pritzker

By Ray Hanania Illinois has never had a more dishonest governor than JB Pritzker. Why is he so dishonest? Because he can afford to be. He inherited billions from his daddy; and when money is no object, neither is truth. Pritzker is using Illinois tax dollars to bolster his re-election bid, claiming that taxpayers will…

Rich Miller

Dem Supreme Court hopefuls have huge money edge

By Rich Miller The labor union and trial lawyer-backed All for Justice independent expenditure committee has so far reported raising $3.5 million, with, I’m told, at least another $5 million in pledges. The committee’s sole purpose is to back the two Democratic candidates running for the Illinois Supreme Court: Appellate Justice Mary K. O’Brien and…

Neighbors

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by two former state legislators who sued for back pay they believed they were due for raises that they voted against while in office. Former Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, and former Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, argued…

Illinois takes Equal Rights Amendment to appeals court

Illinois takes Equal Rights Amendment to appeals court

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Attorneys for the state of Illinois joined their colleagues in Nevada and Virginia Wednesday in asking a federal appellate court to declare that the Equal Rights Amendment has been legally ratified as the 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “I have a daughter who intends to…

CAPITOL RECAP: State announces further unemployment debt repayment

CAPITOL RECAP: State announces further unemployment debt repayment

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker announced a plan Tuesday, Sept. 27, to reduce a $1.8 billion Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund deficit by $450 million through an infusion of unemployment-related revenues. The trust fund is the pool of money paid into by employers to provide a social safety net for unemployed individuals. The employer’s insurance premiums…

State to reduce $1.8 billion federal unemployment debt by $450 million

State to reduce $1.8 billion federal unemployment debt by $450 million

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker announced a plan Tuesday to reduce a $1.8 billion Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund deficit by $450 million through an infusion of unemployment-related revenues. The trust fund is the pool of money paid into by employers to provide a social safety net for unemployed…

Capitol News Illinois to expand operations with $2 million McCormick Foundation grant

Capitol News Illinois to expand operations with $2 million McCormick Foundation grant

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Capitol News Illinois will significantly expand its operations as it enters the fifth year of operations in 2023 because of a significant grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The McCormick Foundation has announced a three-year, $2 million investment in Capitol News Illinois, a nonprofit news organization that provides…

State Sen. Emil Jones III pleads not guilty in bribery case

State Sen. Emil Jones III pleads not guilty in bribery case

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Emil Jones III pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday to three felony counts stemming from an alleged bribery scheme involving a red light camera company. Jones, 44, is a Chicago Democrat who has served in the Senate since 2009. He is also the…

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker called on two Democratic state senators Thursday to resign their seats amid allegations of misconduct. Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, was charged in federal court earlier this week with soliciting a $5,000 bribe from a red light camera company. And Sen. Michael Hastings,…

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker called on two Democratic state senators Thursday to resign their seats amid allegations of misconduct. Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, was charged in federal court earlier this week with soliciting a $5,000 bribe from a red light camera company. And Sen. Michael Hastings,…

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by two former state legislators who sued for back pay they believed they were due for raises that they voted against while in office. Former Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, and former Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, argued…

CAPITOL RECAP: Another Democratic senator charged in bribery scheme

CAPITOL RECAP: Another Democratic senator charged in bribery scheme

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Emil Jones III has been charged in federal court with three criminal counts tied to his dealings with a red light camera company. Jones, a Chicago Democrat, is the son of former Senate President Emil Jones Jr. The younger Jones has served in the Senate since 2009…

House Ad Subscription2
CRR NH Rainbow Motel House Ad