United Steelworkers Union Local 9346 file appeal in light of Supreme Court ruling

USW union continues to fight Teck's random drug and alcohol testing policy for it's Elk Valley employees.

The United Steel workers Local 9346 has filed an appeal in front of the BC Court of Appeals on May 23 regarding the arbitrators decision to deny a temporary order to stop Teck from performing random drug and alcohol tests on workers at the Elk Valley mines.

On June 14, the Supreme Court ruled it was reasonable for a New Brunswick labour arbitration board to strike down a policy at an Irving Pulp & Paper Ltd. mill that forced all workers in “safety-sensitive positions” to undergo random alcohol tests, with about 10 per cent of the work force tested a year.

“The Supreme Court’s decision on the Irvine case explained that just being a safety sensitive work place does not equal reasonable cause,” said Alex Hanson, USW Local 9346 president.

“We’re going to the BC Court of Appeal because we don’t believe Teck has reasonable just cause for random testing. The ruling covers random alcohol testing and the Supreme Court made big generalizations for random drug testing. Alcohol testing can prove impairment yet drug testing only proves past usage. The BC Privacy laws were created to protect workers rights and prevent abuse.”

“The ruling in question does not deal with Teck’s operations,” said Chris Stannell, Senior Communications Specialist for Teck Resources Limited.  “Teck places a high value on the safety of their employees and has developed a random testing that balances privacy rights with safety of employees in a safety sensitive work environment. We have carefully reviewed the Irving decision and the facts in our case are significantly different.”

Stannell continued, “We are working towards having our arbitration case heard as quickly as possible.  We strongly believe that taking measures to eliminate potential misuse of drugs and alcohol that can affect at work performance and safety is an important way we can achieve our vision of everyone going home safe and healthy every day.”

Hanson thinks Teck is not testing at Highland Copper mines in Kamloops or the smelter in Trail because “they are heavily unionized. I think they would refuse on mass and that would be the end of it. There is little turn over with the people who work there. There are more transient workers in the Elk Valley than in Kamloops. People are afraid they will lose their jobs if they refuse the random testing.”

“Teck strongly believes it’s very important to our safety culture. We have had positive tests. We do have employees who have tested positive and are currently in treatment right now at the expense of the company, ” said Nic Milligan, Teck Communications on CBC Radio’s Daybreak.

While Teck has stated their pre-employment screening had 39 failures in 2011 and over 29 in 2012 proves that their policies have merit, Hanson sees it differently.

“Teck’s first line of defense is working. They are catching people with pre-employment screening.  Teck can test if there is signs of impairment displayed and can do post incident testing. Plus employees can report a coworker if impairment is suspected. There are multiple levels of screening already. Why does Teck need yet a fourth? The workers at these mine sites are highly trained with a high quality of skills. They don’t show up to work impaired and they don’t want to work with people who are impaired. Teck has not proven the need for this additional layer (of random drug testing).”

Allergy medications, such as Zantax, can be identified as an amphetamine during drug testing and that has Hanson concerned. “A number of false positives can be made requiring the employee to go to their doctor to prove their medication is prescribed before they can return to work. The potential for abuse by Teck is so great that’s this is a priority.”

“Teck’s random drug and alcohol testing program does not restrict the proper use of prescription medications,” said Stannell. “Teck is not provided with confidential medical information regarding employees. The program is administered independently by a third-party medical organization. When an employee receives a positive test result, an investigation is undertaken by the third-party medical organization, and not by Teck. While this process is underway, employees are put on paid medical leave pending the results of the investigation.”

The USW local 9346 are prepared to explore every legal avenue possible including the Supreme Court, “to stop what seems to be a medical fishing expedition,” said Hanson.

Teck started their random drug and alcohol-testing program at the Elk Valley mines in December 2012. The case will go to arbitration this fall.



Just Posted

Fernie’s Kerri Wall hopes to represent Green Party in federal election

Nelson’s Abra Brynne and Kaslo’s Judson Hansel have also chosen to run

Sparwood council denies temporary worker camp application

In a unanimous decision on Tuesday night, the District of Sparwood denied… Continue reading

Teck responds to Senators’ letter to John Horgan

Teck Resources has responded to a story regarding eight U.S. senators who… Continue reading

Pat Gilmar named RDEK Area A volunteer of the year

Keep moving – words that Pat Gilmar lives by. Fernie is known… Continue reading

Police investigating fatal collision near Grave Lake

Grave Lake is located approximately halfway between Sparwood and Elkford

VIDEO: Rare white killer whale captured by drone near Campbell River

The transient orca has been named Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word that means ‘moon.’

Students disciplined after anti-LGBTQ signs posted in Kamloops high school

Vessy Mochikas, SD73’s principal for inclusive education, called incident a learning opportunity

Air Canada expects Boeing 737 Max to resume flying by September or October

Air Canada isn’t worried about safety of the planes, says vice-president

‘The Fonz’ gives thumbs up in letter to dyslexic students at B.C. school

Students in Maple Ridge reached out to Henry Winkler after reading one his Zipster books.

PHOTOS: MP Mark Warawa loses brief battle with cancer

The Conservative Member of Parliament and long-time community advocate died in hospice this morning

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Commercial fishers in B.C. now required to wear life-jackets on deck: WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC reports 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2018

Rossland boy finds human kindness sweet as honey after beehive destroyed

Family overwhelmed by kind offerings of strangers all across B.C.

B.C. files second legal challenge against Alberta over turn-off-taps law

B.C. government filed a second lawsuit against Alberta on June 14

Most Read