CHICAGO (CBS) — Officials at Cook County Jail suspect many correctional officers called in sick Saturday and Sunday so they could watch the long-anticipated Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.
More than 600 jail guards called in sick for shifts between 7 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday. Jail officials said that’s more than double the number of sick calls they usually see on weekends.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker he suspects many of those correctional officers took a shift off to watch the so-called “Fight of the Century,” when undefeated welterweight Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated Manny Pacquiao – a bout between two of the world’s most popular boxers, which had been in the making for more than five years.
“The indication that we have gotten is that the boxing match had a lot to do with people calling in sick,” Dart said.
Smith said some of the guards who called in sick undoubtedly had legitimate reasons for taking a day off, but anyone who skipped work to watch the fight put an unnecessary strain on other guards who filled their shifts, and had to work overtime.
Teamsters Local 700 Union rep Dennis Andrews says that stress may have been building over the last few weeks.
“There’s officers who have feces and urine thrown at them,” Andrews said. “These things create medical problems and mental problems.”
Dart says he always tells people it is a difficult job.
“There’s nothing in the course of the last week, two weeks were any more stressful than other weeks.”
The sick calls meant overtime for other officers and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We can’t keep draining the taxpayers’ wallet,” Dart said.
The last big spike in sick days at the jail was the weekend of Feb. 1, when a blizzard dumped more than a foot-and-a-half of snow on Chicago on the same weekend as the Super Bowl. Sheriff Tom Dart ordered a lockdown of the jail that Monday, after more than a third of jail staff were unable to report to work because of all the snow.