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Connecticut Guards File Grievances over Efforts to Stem Super Bowl Absenteeism

Connecticut prison guards filed almost 100 grievances over temporary changes in work rules intended to reduce the number of guards calling in sick on Super Bowl XLVI, which pitted the New York Giants against the New England Patriots.

According to then-Department of Correction Commissioner Leo Arnone, requiring guards to produce a doctor’s note for a one-day absence successfully reduced the number of Super Bowl absentees to around 100, which is normal for any given day.

In past years, heavy Super Bowl absenteeism had caused the DOC to take extraordinary measures – including paying overtime to cover for absent guards and placing over a third of the state prison system’s 16 facilities on full or partial lockdown due to staffing shortages. Either option cost the state extra money.

The guards who filed grievances argued that the new rule related to doctor’s orders violated their contract. DOC spokesman Brian Garnett said the department worked with the guards’ union and the changes were so successful that only two prisons were placed on lockdown in 2012.

“This was done with the cooperation of the unions, and we tried to work very cooperatively,” said Garnett. “This wasn’t all a ‘stick’ approach. There was a ‘carrot,’ too.”

But union officials had a hard time finding the carrot. According to Luke Leone, president of AFSCME Local 1565, which represents about half of the state’s 5,000 prison guards, DOC officials requiring a doctor’s note for a single day of sick call violated the union’s contract, which permits up to four consecutive sick call days before a doctor’s note must be produced.

It sounds like the Connecticut prison system treats its guards as it does prisoners – rules are subject to change without notice and do not apply to officials in charge.

As for Superbowl XLVI, the Giants won with a score of 21 to 17. There were no reports of problems regarding Connecticut prison guard absenteeism for Super Bowl XLVII, in which the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31.

Sources: Hartford Courant; Stamford Advocate,

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