It’s a battle between working stiffs and a billion-dollar corporation trying to take away their hard-earned benefits.
Or it’s a fight between greedy union members with unrealistic expectations and a company that’s trying to make a profit for stockholders.
“We’re just taking a stand because at some point you have to fight for what’s right,” said Karen Hannah, 44, an Evergreen Park resident and mother of three who is a funeral director at Blake Lamb Funeral Home, 4727 W. 103rd St., Oak Lawn.
Funeral directors and drivers at 16 funeral homes in the Chicago area went on strike July 2 during a dispute with Service Corporation International, which is headquartered in Houston.
Last month, a spokesman for Teamsters Local 727, which represents the funeral directors, said employees offered to return to work unconditionally. That’s when the strike turned into a lockout.
Other Southland funeral homes impacted by the labor dispute include Kenny Brothers in Evergreen Park, Hennessy-Nowak in Calumet City, Chapel Hill Garden South in Oak Lawn and Ridge Funeral Home in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge community. All of them, including Blake Lamb, are open and continue to operate.
SCI contends that a “significant number of the funeral directors” earn more than $100,000 a year and have enjoyed benefits that few others in the American labor force have these days, such as fully paid health insurance and a pension.
Those two benefits are among the key elements in the dispute, with SCI demanding that employees switch from the pension system to a 401k retirement account that will have an employer match of up to 4 percent of an employee’s salary. The company also wants the employees to pick up a share of their health insurance cost. More…