Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Boston Massachusetts Fire Fighters Union - Not the Norm

Random drug-testing programs are problematic for some unions.

Union leadership claims random drug testing is a violation of workers' right to privacy. Yet, this is appears to be an indefensible position.

Concerns of employee safety and public safety should be the #1 priority with union leaders. Sadly, it may not case for some.

Many non-union employees are required to have a pre-employment drug test and a random drug test. If workers refuse testing, they are terminated. If employees fail a drug test ... they are terminated - (which I don't view as best practice)-, or suspended and subsequently referred to an employee assistance program (EAP), which may or may not be funded by company insurance.

Simple... straight forward... and effective.

Random drug testing, conducted properly, is an effective deterent to on-the-job substance abuse, as well as a detection mechanism. What an employee does at home is not the business of any employer. When employee's behaviors effect the safety of their collegues or the public... it's not only their employers' business... it's their employers' legal obligation.

While many unions have adopted, or at least allowed random drug and alcohol testing, the Boston / Massachusetts Fire Fighters Union has failed to protect its members and the public at large.

No employee, or the public wants a drug or alcohol impaired individual in a safety sensitive position.

The Boston Fire Department had a recent tragedy in which two fatalities tested "positive" for drugs and/or alcohol. Whether this information should have been released to the public the way it was... is certainly questionable. No one should question the bravery of the individual involve, and most would not consider it.

The subsequent stonewalling of the fire fighters unions relative to drug testing is unconscionable, however, and a disgrace to everyone.

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