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Cook County Jail Locked Down on Mother’s Day; Over 200 Workers Absent

by Monte McCoin

On Sunday, May 14, 2017--Mother’s Day--86 guards called out sick at the Cook County Jail in Chicago while another 120 cited the Family Medical Leave Act to justify their absences. The jail was locked down except for “essential movement,” but its visitation schedule remained in effect despite around 32 percent of employees on the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift failing to report for duty.

According to the ChicagoSun-Times, 420 guards had called out sick on Mother’s Day in 2016 and more than 520 were no-shows on Father’s Day about a month later.

Mass sick-outs by staff at the Cook County Jail are rather commonplace, particularly in the days surrounding major sporting events. PLN previously reported that more than 950 employees called out sick during a blizzard over the February 1, 2015 Super Bowl weekend. Shortly thereafter, between May 2-3, 2015, jail officials were unsure whether to blame the “Pacquiao-Mayweather flu” or the “Kentucky Derby flu” for 637 no-shows. [See: PLN, Nov. 2015, p.63]. The trend continued with 235 absences on Super Bowl Sunday in 2016. This year, the big game saw 239 no-shows across two shifts. [See: PLN, Aug. 2017, p.63].

“The extraordinary number of call offs puts additional pressure on the men and women of the Sheriff’s office who come to work as scheduled,” the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. There is no indication that jail employees who fail to report to work have been fired or disciplined, however, which may serve to perpetuate that particular problem. 


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