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Drug test rulings.

Drug test rulings In Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Railway Labor Executives' Association, the Supreme Court held that railroads are not required to bargain with unions before including drug tests in the periodic physical examinations. The case arose in 1987, when Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) added drug tests to the physical exam all employees must undergo every 3 years and employees in safety-related jobs must undergo if they are off duty more than 30 days.

In the 7-2 decision, the Court decided that Conrail's action was a minor dispute under provisions of the Railway Labor Act, meaning that the unions' only recourse was after-the-fact arbitration. In contrast, major disputes must be resolved through negotiations prior to any changes.

The ruling will extend to the airline transportation industry, where collective bargaining is also covered by the Railway Labor Act. An official of the Airline Industrial Relations Conference, an employers' group, said that drug tests in conjunction with physical examinations were already common in the industry, but the major remaining question was the Federal Aviation Administration's order that airlines conduct spot drug tests of employees in safety-related jobs.

The National Labor Relations Board issued two rulings regarding drug and alcohol testing of private industry employees outside of railroads and airline transportation. In one case, the Board ruled that the Johnson-Bateman Co., a concrete pipe-maker, acted contrary to the National Labor Relations Act when it attempted to unilaterally institute drug and alcohol tests for employees who require medical treatment for on-the-job injuries. Instead, the Board said, the company should have negotiated with the Machinists union, which initiated the legal test, because the attempted change was "germane to the working environment."

In the second case, the Board ruled that the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper had acted properly in beginning drug and alcohol tests of job applicants without engaging in collective bargaining. The Board said that its decision hinged on the fact that the applicants did not become part of collective bargaining units until they were hired. The case was initiated by The Newspaper Guild.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Aug 1, 1989
Previous Article:Civil rights cases.
Next Article:Building service workers.

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