Clearing The Smoke

Clearing The Smoke
Posted by FoM on October 31, 1999 at 06:39:20 PT
Making workplace drug-free
Source: Akron Beacon Journal
Branch Roofing had a problem.The owners' first hint came when an employee came into the office and said, ``You guys have a drug problem here and my probation officer says I can't work here anymore.''
That's a pretty clear sign that something's wrong, said owner Carol Tatton, especially when the company didn't even know the worker had a probation officer.But repeated calls and messages to the probation officer were never answered. Neither were the company's suspicions.Then a few months later, a sub-contractor called to tell Tatton that her employees were smoking pot on job sites, though he wouldn't mention names. Finally, the owner of a temp agency told Branch Roofing that, sorry, his workers ``don't want to work for you. You guys have a drug problem.''How could this be? After all, Tatton said, all the employees took drug tests before they were hired.As she was about to find out, she said, that wasn't enough.On Tuesday, Tatton shared her company's story with about 30 other business people, as part of the Medina County Drug-Free Workplace Partnership.The partnership began about a year ago, when the board members of the Medina County Drug Abuse Commission ``decided we had a big hole in our anti-drug program if we didn't do this,'' said board member Paul Williams.MCDAC was funding prevention programs in schools, treatment programs and law enforcement agencies, but still, there was a whole segment of the population -- adult workers -- who were being missed, said executive director Chris Kalina.After bringing in business leaders for focus groups, the partnership has spent less than $5,000 to put together a handbook, telling businesses how to start a drug-free workplace program, along with a resource list.During Tuesday's workshop, Tatton was joined by two other speakers, attorney Natalie Grubb and Kathy Kushner-Fischer of the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, which is offering discounts for businesses with a drug-free workplace plan.Tatton told the audience that making changes is not easy.The first time the topic of random drug tests was mentioned to employees, she said, ``the response we got was, `If you implement it, we're out the door.'``So that kind of scared us. We took a step back and said, maybe it's not the right thing to do.''But then the tips from the subcontractor, probation officer and temp agency started coming in. Something had to be done about the employees.``We decided,'' she said, ``that we were not going to let these people put us out of business.''So the company called a meeting, announced the random testing and brought in a mobile testing lab. Of 19 employees, she said, only six passed.Since making changes at Branch Roofing, Tatton said, absenteeism is down, employees feel safer and there has been no time lost due to accidents in '97, '98 or '99.To John Hartman, though, all this talk of workplace drug testing is simply a way for local and state governments to ``enforce prohibition of marijuana, not improve the safety of the workforce.''Hartman, president of the Northcoast Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said if companies are worried about on-the-job safety, they should be using computer-generated eye-hand coordination tests. Drug testing, he said, is simply a way for companies to pry into an employee's personal time and private conduct.``In the case of the roofers,'' he said, ``as long as the roof doesn't leak and it looks good, that's what matters. That's really the bottom line in some of these cases.''Not true, said Tatton. Knowing that employees are smoking pot on a roof or behind the wheel of a company vehicle places a huge legal liability on the employer.But she said she has found that finding good drug-free employees is difficult.In fact, the owner of a temp agency was furious when Branch Roofing refused to use a worker who tested with a high blood-alcohol level.``He was very upset and told me, `I'm not going to do business with you anymore.' And I said, `You know what? If you're not going to provide me with drug-free workers, I don't want to work with you either.' ''BY TRACY WHEELER Beacon Journal staff writer Published Sunday, October 31, 1999,in the Akron Beacon Journal. 
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on November 01, 1999 at 18:42:42 PT
Freedom isn't a matter for lawyers to determine
Lessons, our Founding Fathers, were they alive today, would probably have urinated in the specimen bottle... and thrown the contents in the face of the person demanding the sample! And if more of us did exactly that, then this idiocy would stop. Because when it is the government that allows such predations on your liberties, with the hearty help of private corporations, it is long past time to act. What has happened here is that one more inroad has been made into the freedoms of all Americans, one more spineless trade of phantasmogorical security for the reality of manacles. One more notch on the handcuff ratchets as it is being closed around your wrists.Why were the employers concerned? Had the workmen been shoddy in their workmanship? That matter was never addressed.Had they been abusive to customers? Again, no answer.Granted, smoking on the job isn't smart, but who was harmed? Silence.What was their sole reason (except, perhaps, for the simple attempt to gain an extra degree of unwarrented control over an employee's life, in the way all bosses from time immemorial have sought to do) to have instituted drug testing? Pressure from police and police controlled organizations. And, ultimately, from the testing industry. That's what was the reason for the testing.Drug testing is one of the most lucrative businesses going; you can reap a windfall for very little investment, and you don't actually produce a thing! But something else also happens: you garner an enormous amount of unwarranted political power as a means of population control. Think of it - how many times has a false positive been given in these tests? I wonder: how many times has an employee bent on unionizing his organization been dismissed on a drug test being (conveniently) positive? Not all that bizarre, friends, in the 1980's there were seminars for employers in how to break unions; this would be just the next logical step. Gotta keep those independently minded, freedom loving wage slaves in line! What better way than neatly dodging the pitfall of appearing to infringe on employee's rights by bringing up the ostensibly societal consensus issue of 'workplace safety'? Very slick, the way they worked it.In Europe, the unions are adamantly against drug testing, as well as other matters that infringe on workers rights. Sure, the (corporately controlled) press here makes much of the supposedly lower living standards that they purportedly suffer from, but having eaten at a Dutch 'truck stop', I didn't see any supposedly lower living standards resulting in poor service or inedible food. Nope, the employers can't squeeze the workers due to union power. That's why the workers enjoy more personal freedom than we do. And until we are as organized as a political unit as they are, the prohibitionists will always be ready to order us to 'stand and deliver'.
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Comment #2 posted by Lessons on November 01, 1999 at 12:04:30 PT
Constitutional law
1. The US Constitution does not govern private employment relationships, absent Federal or State action that affects the relationship (such as Federal drug testing regulations). 2. State constitutions only affect private employment relationships in limited situations. 3. What is constitutional is determined by the highest court of the state and/or the US Supreme Court. If the court with jurisdiction says drug testing is constitutional, it is, even if you would interpret the relevant Constitution differently. 4. Employer drug testing, where it does implicate constitutional issues, has passed constitutional muster in virtually all cases where it has been challenged. 5. If an employer doesn't want a drug user as an employee, the drug user has no right to work there--constitutional or otherwise. Class dismissed.
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Comment #1 posted by J Bills on November 01, 1999 at 11:21:24 PT:
Reinstate our Rights or we will do it for you.
Drug-free. What phantasm. I cannot believe the idiocy of people who really believe this is possible. For people who are urine testing for a job, go to the Cleartest link and think of the possibility of reinstating your 4th and 5th amendment rights yourself! They have powdered urine that you can mix with distilled warm water(91-100 degrees F) that will virtually guarantee a pass. Just get a test tube that will hold about 25 ml and keep it in your arm pit to provide body temperature and viola! You get your constitutional rights back by proxy! If the testers watch you( a HUGE invasion of privacy unless you are military, where you are subject to the UCMJ) you will need a more elaborate set-up, like the Urinator(Cleartest). The employers are wrong in urine-testing employees because it does NOT test present impairment, but PAST impairment; a time that, constitutionally, is NONE of an employer's business.
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