CHICAGO, June 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Houston-based funeral giant Service Corporation International (NYSE: SCI) rejected a last and best offer from Teamsters Local 727 and countered with its original proposal to eliminate the employees' pension, health and educational assistance benefits.
"On the first day of negotiations [ June 14], SCI laid out this identical economic proposal dressed up with 4 percent wage increases. After 40 hours of negotiating to nowhere, SCI is back to its original offer plus an additional two percent in wages. It is clear they flew to Chicago simply to bargain their way to a strike vote by their employees," said John T. Coli, Local 727 Secretary-Treasurer. "In almost 100 years of representing workers in Chicago's funeral industry, the Teamsters have always been able to reach amicable agreements with its employers. It is sad that SCI wants to be this type of leader in the funeral industry."
The union will take SCI's proposal to the 59 funeral directors and drivers for a vote on Monday night. If the members reject the offer, a strike vote will be held immediately following the vote. All votes are by secret ballot and only affected funeral directors and drivers can participate. (Copies of the company's final offer are available upon request)."Whether we can afford [the union proposals], that's not the issue. We haven't plead poverty in negotiations, and we're not going to now," Amy Devadanam, SCI attorney and lead negotiator, told the union's bargaining committee on June 28. On Sunday, in an attempt to avert a strike, the union withdrew virtually all of its proposals and made an offer that included wage increases of 3 percent in each year of a five-year contract and retention of current pension, health, legal and educational assistance benefits.