Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The first blood bank in the world was established at Cook County Hospital by Dr. Bernard Fantus in 1937.
   
     
     
     



The jailhouse flu hits Cook County

Friday, January 15, 2016
Chicago Tribune
by Editorial

Sometimes you just don't feel like dragging yourself to work. The car is snowed in. There's a big game on ESPN this afternoon. It's Monday. This is why God — or your collective bargaining agreement — gave you sick days, right? No, actually, it isn't. But that seems to be the attitude at the Cook County Jail, where spikes in the number of employees calling in sick often track suspiciously with snowstorms, holidays or major sporting events. Last Tuesday, the jail had to be placed on lockdown after 142 correctional officers — 18 percent of those scheduled to work — called in sick for the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. Is it unfair to wonder if this outbreak had something to do with Monday night's NCAA football championship game and Tuesday morning's subzero windchill? We don't think so. Consider:

•135 people called in sick for the 3 to 11 p.m. shift on New Year's Eve.

•637 called in sick over four shifts during the weekend of May 2, 2015, which included the Kentucky Derby and a live broadcast of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao "Fight of the Century." Cook County Jail lockdown lifted after staff numbers return to normal

•877 called in sick over four shifts during the Feb. 1, 2015 weekend, which featured the Super Bowl and a blizzard.

Yes, everyone gets sick. And some people in every occupation, we'd venture, have taken a questionable sick day at some point. But the jail is a 24/7 workplace, with minimum staffing levels dictated by a federal consent decree. Employees who are called in to cover for those who are out sick get overtime pay. Tuesday's big sick day cost taxpayers $20,000 in OT. Unexpected staff shortages force the jail to order lockdowns, during which inmates aren't allowed out of their cells for exercise or other activities because essential tasks, like transporting detainees to court hearings, take priority. Responding to a medical emergency or a fight between inmates can be dicey when the jail is shorthanded. It's in everyone's interest — detainees, correctional officers, taxpayers — for the jail to be adequately staffed. Sheriff Tom Dart's attempts to get chronic absenteeism under control have been complicated by a curious phenomenon: Nearly 1 in 3 correctional officers have been certified under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides job protections for workers who need time off for serious health or family issues. Almost all of them — 93 percent — qualified for "intermittent" leave. That designation allows them to take short periods of time off to deal with episodic conditions such as asthma or migraines, as opposed to "continuous" leave for a single purpose, like caring for a new baby. Of the 142 correctional officers who called in sick Tuesday, 82 were covered under FMLA and 60 claimed a regular sick day. Why does it matter? Because suspected abuses of the regular sick leave policy can be dealt with more readily through the department's disciplinary process. An employee with chronic Friday-and-Monday sickness can be required to produce a doctor's note, for example. But FMLA certification pre-empts much of that. That makes it hard for an employer to respond to a rash of alleged asthma attacks on a big sports weekend, for example. Teamsters Local 700, which represents correctional officers and investigators at the jail, responded angrily to news coverage of Tuesday's lockdown, with a statement defending members' right to use their earned sick days. No argument here. But what about the curious correlation between absenteeism and televised sports events? A follow-up statement blamed the spikes that coincided with the Super Bowl and the NCAA game on winter weather, not sports. Last time we checked, snow was not an illness. The statements also rehash some labor-management issues and point to the risks of dealing with violent detainees day in and day out. We get it: It's a demanding, potentially dangerous job. It also pays pretty well — starting salary for a corrections officer is $51,969 a year — and it comes with some generous benefits, including paid sick days. But sick days are sick days, not floating holidays to be taken spontaneously. For the three shifts that covered 7 a.m. Feb. 1, 2015 to 7 a.m. Feb. 2, 2015, 764 correctional officers — 37 percent of those assigned to work — called in sick. What are the odds of that? And what are the odds that it would happen on Super Bowl Sunday?



Recent Headlines

Cook County forest district poised to regain 400-acre Barrington Hills farm, but foreclosed owners hope hemp crop can bail them out
Monday, June 24, 2019
Chicago Tribune

County assessor nixes help wanted request to commissioners after watchdog raises concerns
Monday, June 24, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Budget woes at Cook County health system threaten insurance program used by more than 300,000 residents
Friday, June 21, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Property tax pinch: Average North Sider’s bill to rise by $536, South Sider’s by $23
Friday, June 21, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Own property on Chicago’s North Side or central core? Expect a big tax hike
Friday, June 21, 2019
Chicago Tribune

If you live in these areas, your property taxes are about to soar
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County property tax bills posted online ahead of mailing, taxes due August 1
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
ABC Channel 7

Cook County Assessor’s Office asks commissioners to lend staff — and is told, yeah, we’re pretty busy
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Health Program Focuses on ‘Whole Person Care’
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
WTTW News

Beekeeping Behind Bars: Inmates Raise Bees at Cook County Jail
Friday, June 14, 2019
WTTW News

Court rules county retirees entitled to health care no matter who last employer was
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Prevent Illinois from being the next ground zero for measles
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

At Cook County Jail, Inmates Relax Their Minds, Bodies With Yoga
Thursday, June 06, 2019
Prison Mindfulness Institute

Illinois Dept. of Revenue Releases Final 2018 Cook County Equalization Factor
Thursday, June 06, 2019
JD Supra

Skokie drops recent proposal to opt out of Cook County minimum wage ordinance
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Tribune

JAMA examines rising drug costs • CVS' ambitious transformation • Cook County extends Medicaid contract
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

DCFS says nonprofit misused taxpayer dollars, demands repayment of $100K
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County judge, ripped for ‘insensitive’ racial comments, dumped from bench
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Offers Low Cost Rabies And Microchipping Clinic
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Patch

Masturbating Cook County Jail inmates could cost taxpayers $2 million-plus in legal fees
Tuesday, June 04, 2019

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP