In a truly questionable “coincidence,” hundreds of Chicago jail employees supposedly fell ill on Sunday, which so happened to be Father’s Day and the last game of the NBA finals.
According to New York Daily News, more than 300 Cook County jail officials called in sick which led to the country’s largest single-site county jail complex being placed on lockdown.
Cook County Jail was placed on lockdown this morning after a total of 317 staff members called off for the 7-3 and 3-11 shifts.— CCSO (@CCSOPIO) June 19, 2016
Between the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shifts, a total of 317 people called out of work. The irony of the situation couldn’t be more blatant.
Cara Smith, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff’s office, addressed the likelihood of the connection.
“While I can't prove that with certainty, it's my very strong belief that the call-outs were caused by those events and the beautiful summer day,” Smith told the Daily News. "When we have this many staff that call in, we have to make the tough decisions to eliminate where we can."
The lockdown — which barred inmate recreation and all programming requiring staff — “was ordered to ensure officer safety,” according to a statement released by the sheriff’s office.
Inmates were restricted to visitation, discharges, and medical needs while the lockdown was in process.
This surely impacted a large chunk of inmates, considering the Cook County Jail houses about 8,500 inmates a day and 100,000 a year.
The employees’ union defended its clients’ actions by citing the “earned sick time” of its members as a vague excuse for the mass call-out.
Michael Malone, the secretary-treasurer of jail workers’ union Teamsters Local 700, shifted the attention away from the employees and directed it back on the jail administration.
"The earned sick time of our members can be used at their discretion as long as it coincides with the rules of their contract, which Sheriff Tom Dart agreed to," Malone reportedly said in a statement. "Regardless of how earned sick time is used, we won't let our members be subjected to the ridicule that the current jail administration puts forth in an attempt to hide the real issues that they should be paying attention to."
Perhaps there is some reform that needs to happen within the Cook County Jail in favor of its employees, but regardless of what is going on internally, you can’t deny that a mass sick-out occurring on the same day as a family holiday and major sporting event warrants some skepticism.
Just in case this is all coincidence and there is truly some virus making its rounds, Cook County Jail may also want to consider disinfecting the facility so as not to keep the germs festering!
Banner Photo Credit: Wikipedia/ Flickr user Zol87