Funeral Home Workers Go On Strike

OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) — Workers went on strike this morning against funeral homes that operate under the Dignity Memorial label.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports funeral directors and drivers for the 16 Dignity Memorial mortuaries in the Chicago area walked off the job on Tuesday.

Teamsters Local 727 spokesman Brian Rainville said only 11 funeral homes will be picketed, because the traffic layout at the other five would risk the safety of picketers.

Striking funeral home workers won’t picket previously scheduled funerals, but the same can’t be said for funerals that are booked while the union funeral directors are on strike.

Rainville said Dignity Memorial brought in replacement funeral directors from out of state last week to train at its Chicago area facilities. He said the company wants to eliminate the employee pension plan and gut workplace rights.

“They have a respect for one thing, and that’s their bottom line,” he said. “They want to pull as much money out as they possibly can, and that’s what they’re doing here.

Pat Quinlan, a funeral director at Blake Lamb Funeral Home in Oak Lawn, said he and his co-workers have not received pay raises in six years.

“Now they want to take everything; a lot of the working rules. No working rules at all. They can do whatever they want, bring in whoever they want, have them do whatever they’re asked to do, and not keep us anymore,” he said.

Quinlan has been in the funeral business for 39 years, and grew up living over a funeral home, and said people would be surprised to learn many funeral homes are not the family-owned businesses they once were, and are run instead by big corporations like Dignity Memorial.

“A lot of people that are driving down the street right now don’t probably even realize that Mr. Lamb isn’t here anymore, and that this business has been sold,” he said.

A spokesperson for Dignity Memorial declined comment on the strike vote.

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