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Funeral Home Workers Reach Agreement, Nix Strike

No major changes in new three-year deal.

Union employees at four area funeral homes including  and  have canceled their strike. Instead, the 16 funeral directors, embalmers and livery drivers voted in favor of a new three-year contract, according to a statement sent by Teamsters Local 727 Tuesday evening.

“They’re happy they have their jobs secured for another three years,” Maggie Jenkins, spokesperson for Teamsters Local 727, told Patch.

Jessica McDunn, spokesperson at Specialty Corporation International, said she couldn’t share details about the negotiations, but they were pleased with the result.

“We’re pleased that the matter's been resolved and everyone can continue to provide exceptional service to our client families,” McDunn said.

The employees were set to strike at 10 a.m. Tuesday. A half hour before the strike was to begin, Patch received notification from union officials that it was postponed.

In an interview Monday, Jenkins said one of the main issues that caused employees to vote in favor of striking was a wage freeze, which was also part of their last three-year deal that ended June 30.

Jenkins said the other main issue for employees was healthcare coverage. The funeral home workers are currently insured by plans through Service Corporation International, which owns 24 funeral homes in the Chicago area and 17 throughout Illinois. Jenkins said employees wanted to return to healthcare plans through the union as they had prior to 2002.

Neither the wage freeze, nor the healthcare plans changed in the contract employees approved Tuesday, Jenkins said. Only a couple of small work condition issues were changed, she said.

When asked if workers’ jobs were threatened in any way, Jenkins said she couldn’t speak to that specifically.

“I’m not saying that didn’t happen; it’s certainly a possibility,” Jenkins said.

Meanwhile three of the four funeral homes were vandalized sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. On Tuesday Jenkins said the crimes were absolutely not related to the strike postponement, and it was just a strange coincidence.

When asked Tuesday about the vandalism, which included spray-painted profanity and broken windows, McDunn said, “We’re disgusted.”

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