Cook County Jail employees say they’re getting little information from sheriff’s office, union

COVID-19 Pandemic
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CHICAGO — With cases of COVID-19 expected to rise at the Cook County Jail, some employees said they’re getting little information from the sheriff’s office or their union.

One union steward said he’s been filing grievances with his union for years over cleanliness at the Cook County Jail. 

Now that 21 people from the jail have tested positive for COVID-19, he said his stress level and his colleagues’ is through the roof.

“We want adequate supplies, cleaning equipment and gloves to protect ourselves, families and detainees there,” said Erik Roberts, SEUI Local 73 Steward.

The cook county sheriff’s office said there are plenty of cleaning supplies available.

N95 masks are only to be used when near an inmate who has tested positive, according to documents obtained by WGN. 

“These masks are in short supply around the country. We will not use these until it is absolutely necessary.”

“This just raises the stakes of our likelihood of contracting it and getting seriously ill,” said Roberts.

An employee who has severe asthma and is considered high risk for contracting the virus said she was denied a mask and was told to use sick and vacation days if she stays home.

“We are being told things from our union as well as the sheriff’s department that is not true. Yet we still have been to work every day last week, exposing ourselves and families to this virus while almost every department down on 31st has been working from home since March 9, 2020,” one employee told WGN.

The civilian employees said they’re getting mixed messages from the sheriff’s department and their union.

In a statement, SEIU Local 73 said they’re collecting a detailed a list of what is needed.

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