A temporary restraining order was granted last week against striking Chicago-land Teamsters employed as funeral directors and drivers at 16 area funeral homes managed by Houston-based Service Corporation International (SCI).
Teamsters Local 727, which is headed by the powerful and politically-connected Coli family, called the strike against SCI on July 1st.
According to a company press release, some of the incidents cited in the complaint include (emphasis added):
- During the service of a young child who had passed away from cancer, picketers laughed, smiled and joked as they created a disturbance within the immediate vicinity of the only public entrance to the funeral home. They were asked to move by a police officer who had been called – then moved back immediately in front of the building and its entrance after the officer left.
- While escorting a woman and her father who were attempting to plan her recently deceased mother’s funeral, an employee escorting them was taunted and called names, the three of them were taunted with a bullhorn and siren sound, and intimidated by an unleashed German Shepherd.
- Picketers used a bullhorn to shout profane and sexually explicit taunts while a woman and her four- and five-year-old sons attempted to make arrangements for her grandmother’s funeral causing the family to become visibly upset.
- A group of picketers temporarily blocked a grieving widow’s vehicle as she tried to exit the parking lot.
- Picketers repeatedly used the siren function on a bull horn, compressed air horns, car horns and car alarms to create loud disturbances during arrangements and services.
- Picketers threatened to blow up the house of a retired sheriff’s officer hired to work private security at the funeral home.
The company stated that it felt it was “imperative due to the repeated incidents of gross insensitivity, harassment and profane comments directed toward grieving families, as well as threats of violence by Teamsters representatives participating in these picketing efforts.”
A hearing is scheduled before the court on August 2nd, when the court will consider issuing a permanent injunction against the Teamsters.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, one of the main causes of the strike is SCI’s desire to exit the Teamsters’ pension fund.
Currently, SCI has a RICO suit filed against John Coli and others for manipulation of the union’s pension fund.