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Anheuser-Busch brewery workers fight drug test that uses hair; claim method is unproven.



Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)

Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world.
 - Anheuser-Busch brewery workers are fighting a drug test imposed recently that is designed to detect drug use up to three months prior.

The new test relies on a lock of hair, rather than a urine sample, which has led Teamsters Teamsters

large, powerful union of U. S. truckers. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2703]

See : Labor
 Local 102 to file a civil rights lawsuit and one worker to shave all of his body hair. Testers used a fingernail fin·ger·nail
n.
The nail on a finger.
 clipping for his test instead the union said.

The union, representing 500 brewers, machinists and clerks at the Newark brewery, says the test is unreliable and violates privacy rights.

"We are not going to accept this lying down," Jack Riley For the ice hockey player, see .

Jack Riley (born December 30, 1935) is an American comedic actor probably most recognizable as the irascible Elliot Carlin from Bob Newhart's 1970s TV sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show, and as the voice of Stu Pickles in Rugrats.
, Local 102 secretary-treasurer and chief executive officer, told The Star-Ledger of Newark. So far, his local is the only one of 16 Teamster TEAMSTER. One who drives horses in a wagon for the purpose of carrying goods for hire he is liable as a common carrier. Story, Bailm. Sec. 496.  locals around the country to challenge the hair testing, but he said he hopes to inspire others.

The St. Louis-based brewer of Budweiser and other brands maintains hair testing is accurate and fair.

"We're absolutely convinced about the reliability of hair testing," said Eric M. Schmitz, Anheuser-Busch vice president for labor relations.

It has been implementing hair testing for Teamster workers at its 12 breweries since February, although managers and nonunion nonunion /non·union/ (non-un´yun) failure of the ends of a fractured bone to unite.

non·un·ion
n.
The failure of a fractured bone to heal normally.
 workers have been subject to the tests for a decade, Schmitz said Thursday.

The union sued in March in state Superior Court. The company sought to have the case transferred to federal court, but a federal judge last week denied the bid.

The world's largest brewer put in the new test as part of a contract it imposed on its 8,000 Teamsters workers last year amid an impasse in negotiations. Prior to that, each Teamster had one urine test during each of two prior contracts, 1991-94 and 1994-98, Schmitz said.

Testing is important because brewery employees work with heavy machinery and hot liquids, he said. Workers who refuse to take the test are fired.

Because urine tests reveal the presence of drugs ingested in·gest  
tr.v. in·gest·ed, in·gest·ing, in·gests
1. To take into the body by the mouth for digestion or absorption. See Synonyms at eat.

2.
 from 18 hours to three days before the samples were taken, they are still used after accidents and upon "reasonable suspicion Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard in United States law that a person has been, is, or is about to be, engaged in criminal activity based on specific and articulable facts and inferences. ," Schmitz said.

In contrast, hair tests show drug use up to 90 days before the test, he said.

The hair tests can detect use of cocaine, marijuana, opiates Opiates
Analgesic, pain killing drugs, such as heroin and morphine that depress the central nervous system.

Mentioned in: Withdrawal Syndromes
 such as heroin, methamphetamine and PCP PCP
abbr.
1. phencyclidine

2. primary care physician


Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) 
, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 Psychemedics Corp. of Cambridge, Mass., which performs the tests for Anheuser-Busch.

Its more than 1,500 corporate clients include police departments, Federal Reserve banks, hospitals and universities.

Casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas also use hair tests.

But more than 90 percent of firms that test for illegal drugs still rely on urine tests, according to the American Management Association.

Because it looks farther back, hair testing has detected more drug use than urine tests at Anheuser-Busch, Schmitz said, but he declined to give specific figures.

Workers who test positive for drugs are given unpaid leave and can be reinstated after completing an employee assistance program and testing clean.

"Less than a handful of employees have been discharged for failing to complete an employee assistance program" of some 8,000 Teamsters and 2,000 craft workers around the nation, Schmitz said.

Union officials said at least two workers in Newark were discharged after positive drug tests since February.

One Newark Teamster, machinist Frederick Wedekin, told the newspaper he felt "violated" when a lock was cut taken recently for testing.

"I've never had anybody cut my hair without my permission unless it was my mother and father when I was a young kid," said Wedekin, 53, of Belleville.

Local 102 contends hair testing is unproven and more intrusive than urine tests. It also argues that hair testing is discriminatory, citing experts who believe compounds left in hair by drugs are more likely to be detected in dark or coarse hair, and therefore among blacks.

Messages left for the union leader and its lawyer were not immediately returned last week.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:May 17, 1999
Words:648
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