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Threatened Strike Called Off Two Days After Vandals Hit Three Suburban Chicago Funeral Homes

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A walk-out previously scheduled for Tuesday morning at four suburban Chicago funeral homes was postponed after management of the homes agreed to meet with the local union to negotiate a new contract for employees, including funeral directors, embalmers and livery drivers.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that three of the four Alderwoods funeral homes involved -- the Weinstein home in Wilmette, the Lauterburg & Oehler home in Arlington Heights and the Oehler home in Des Plaines -- were vandalized sometime Sunday evening with "vulgar profanity, broken windows, damage to the front door and damage to an associate's car," according to a spokeswoman for Service Corporation International, the company which owns the homes among its 21 Chicagoland locations operated under the Dignity Memorial brand name.

The Teamsters, who deny they had anything to do with the incident, voted to strike on July 5 and threatened to file unfair labor practice charges against the funeral home company. They claim SCI has engaged in bad faith bargaining and direct dealing, while the company argues the main sticking point has been whether the unionized workers will go to the company's health care plan, rather than the union's plan, according to the Chicago Tribune.

SCI, reportedly the largest provider of mortuary products and services in North America, operates some 1,800 funeral homes throughout the country. The Houston, Tex.-based corporation maintains that any changes they have made to the union's proposed contract will not reduce employees' wages or make changes to their health care plan, the Sun-Times added.

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