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TTC approves limited drug-testing policy

Officials to discuss protocol with union

September 23, 2008 1:36 PM

Toronto Transit Commission employees could be tested for drug and alcohol abuse under certain circumstances - but never as a part of a random drug-testing program, commissioners decided this week.

“I think the commission struck the balance between customer safety and the security and rights and dignity of our employees,” said TTC Chair Adam Giambrone after the meeting Thursday afternoon.

The commissioners sent TTC senior staff off to negotiate with the union representing TTC operators, to come up with a protocol for drug and alcohol testing. Staff had recommended that the TTC embark on a random testing program, to deter workers from showing up to a shift impaired.

But commissioners listened to deputants - including Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 President Bob Kinnear - who argued that such testing would amount to an unacceptable invasion of the personal privacy of workers.

So the TTC is looking to impose the tests only on workers who arrive at work appearing to be impaired, and possibly new hires.

Giambrone said the tests would likely be strictly measuring impairment, rather than instituting a zero tolerance policy.

“We’re not governing what people do on their private time,” he said. “All we care about is what happens when they report for duty. It’s not my job to monitor 12,000 people’s behaviour outside work hours. What my job as the chair of the commission is to satisfy myself that we have policies that allow people to come in fit for duty.”

Kinnear, however, warned that the TTC was a long way from securing an agreement from the union to institute the policy.

“Let me assure all our members, and the Toronto Transit Commission: we will not enter into anything that is arbitrarily rammed down our throats,” he said. “It will not happen. We will see how the meetings go.”