After 30 years at the bar and a lifetime in Illinois, it takes quite a bit to shock me but this did:
A judge ordered one of Chicago’s most politically powerful labor unions to suspend picketing against 16 funeral homes last week after receiving reports that striking Teamsters had, among other things, disturbed a child’s funeral.
SCI Illinois Services, Inc., one of the nation’s largest funeral home chains, asked a district court to intervene after striking funeral directors and drivers with Teamsters Local 727 allegedly harassed grieving families.
“We are grateful that the court agreed to issue this temporary restraining order, and we are hopeful that it will help protect grieving families who are experiencing the most difficult times of their lives,” Larry Michael, managing director for SCI Illinois Services, Inc., said in a release. “While we recognize and respect the Teamsters’ right to lawfully picket, we have been shocked and saddened by their attempts to make grieving families the target of the cruel and outrageous attacks.”
The company testified in its filing that union members blocked grieving family members from leaving its parking lot, used bullhorns to shout obscenities at workers and mourners, and unleashed a German Shepard on a dead woman’s daughter and husband.
The funeral home was eventually forced to call the police when picketers allegedly disrupted a child’s funeral with laughter. The officer asked the Teamsters to leave, but protesters returned when he drove away.
“We will be here for the visitation; we will be here for your funeral,” Teamster driver Lester Plewa allegedly shouted into a bullhorn as a funeral director met with a dying man planning his arrangements with family members.
The appellate court ordered the Teamsters on July 25 to “refrain from conveying any actual or veiled threats against any person, also, refrain from obstructing, hindering, impeding or blocking any person’s entry to or exit from any funeral site or any facility containing a funeral site.”