Drug Screening in the Workplace: Fairness Based Testing
You know, my wife and I were talking about how getting a Conditional Offer of Employment works. Just moments before this post. I remember how my COE’s worked from back in the day when I had the opportunity to work in semiconductors. And from before they ever did any drug testing. Oh the times they have changed.
We talked about it, because my wife is looking for work after loyally working for a company for nearly seventeen years, because they laid her off after she trained her Singaporean replacement. I shit you not. Three weeks after she trained her replacement, she was walked out the door – thanks for all your hard work, we don’t need you anymore, buh-bye.
So we’re talking about this and I quickly recounted how it used to be that only persons with really sensitive jobs got screened – and then only if there was an offer of employment where security clearances were involved – like when I joined the Air Force, I got drug tested – and regularly afterwards while enjoying the privilege of working in the USAF with my “Secret” clearance. Then I recounted and recapped some of the changes and how they were instituted in technical and skilled fields. How drunk driving and drugged truckers, mail handlers, information specialists and computer professionals got tagged as “vital” to our economic security, so they got screened on offers of employment and then tested only if there was an accident or an incident that bespoke potential drug abuse.
Later, random and regular testing of most anyone applying for a job that was more skilled than washing dishes became pretty routine. As I said, oh how the times, they have changed. Then my wife quipped, “If all those people making laws were drug tested and screened, they’d have to fire over half of our representatives in office!”
I loved it. It’s really about being fair, but let’s be fair about drug screening in the first place and objective, too, while we’re at it. Why was drug screening instituted in so many workplaces? To ensure that the person working in important, vitally economically important, skilled labor in places where great potential financial and personal harm could be done were not high, stoned, drugged insensate or drunk while performing these important and vital tasks. Okay, that sounds sort of reasonable.
Isn’t making law, debating state and national policy, budgets and ruling on things like social programs, defense spending, law enforcement and holding public office in this same nature? Don’t our federally elected and state elected representatives hold vital, sensitive data in the palms of their hands? Aren’t they making vitally important decisions in skilled positions where great personal, financial and economic harm could be done?
So why should they be exempted from this important testing metric to make sure they aren’t operating under the influence of all the same things the rest of us have to undergo when they are employed in fields that demand straight thinking and clear heads? I would offer that their positions have much greater financial, social and legal impact and potential for harm than any other position. Congress has the power to declare war. I don’t want generals with their fingers on the buttons to be high, why should the people who say, “Do it, do it now,” get a pass?
Don’t they work for us? Aren’t We, the People, their employers? Don’t we, as an employer putting them into sensitive and vitally important positions of state have the same right to determine whether or not they should be in those positions with the same drug screening they mandated for people in their very types of positions?
I think so. Do you? I hope so. Do we really want people making our laws, deciding our budgetary priorities and handling our affairs of state to be drinking, drugging and debating? Should they be allowed to Operate the Government Under the Influence of drugs, too? It’s bad enough they’re being lobbied and cajoled by corporate oligarchs *(the same folks who drug test you and I for their jobs, if they haven’t already shipped them off overseas somewhere) and the super-rich elite, without them being addled by drugs and drink into compromising the safety and security of our government from the very top of the power pyramid, too.
Then again, maybe that’s what makes it so easy to compromise our elected officials? It’s a proven fact that alcohol impairs judgment. We all know many of our representatives drink, some quite heavily. You can’t tell me Ted Kennedy’s rosy complexion was anything more than an unhealthy taste for Scotch or Irish Whiskey. Those guys in the House and Senate often look a bit too ruddy cheeked while they are in there, deciding our future, if you ask me.
Drug screening, not only a good idea, it’s the law. Let’s apply it fairly and equally across the spectrum of positions that require clear headed, un-drugged thinking of any kind. Shouldn’t our elected representatives follow the same laws as the rest of us? I don’t think they get diplomatic immunity from this sort of screening. And they shouldn’t. Let’s start something.