Important advisory to all active members

The Federal Railroad Administration recently held a meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., with representatives of rail labor and all Class 1 railroads in mid-June to discuss an alarming trend in employee drug testing results.

The FRA expressed concern over a recent increase in the number of positive drug and alcohol results in post-accident testing as well as an increase in the number of positives in random testing.

The rate of testing in the industry is dictated by the percentage of positive tests. The Code of Federal Regulations reads as follows:

"FRA 49 CFR, Part 219:

"219.608 b) The (Federal Railroad) Administrator's decision to increase or decrease the minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing is based on the violation rate for the entire industry.

"219.608 (c)(1)

"(1) When the minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing is 25 percent or more, the Administrator may lower this rate to 10 percent of all covered employees if the Administrator determines that the data received under the reporting requirements of §219.800 for two consecutive calendar years indicate that the violation rate is less than 0.5 percent.

"219.608(c)(2)

"(2) When the minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing is 50 percent, the Administrator may lower this rate to 25 percent of all covered employees if the Administrator determines that the data received under the reporting requirements of §219.800 for two consecutive calendar years indicate that the violation rate is less than 1.0 percent but equal to or greater than 0.5 percent."

In a similar way, the Administrator determines the drug testing rate.

"219.602(c) When the minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing is 50 percent, the Administrator may lower this rate to 25 percent of all covered employees if the Administrator determines that the data received under the reporting requirements of §219.800 for two consecutive calendar years indicate that the reported positive rate is less than 1.0 percent.

"219.602(d)(d) When the minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing is 25 percent, and the data received under the reporting requirements of §219.800 for any calendar year indicate that the reported positive rate is equal to or greater than 1.0 percent, the Administrator will increase the minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing to 50 percent of all covered employees."

The FRA has allowed for carriers to develop programs for employees, such as Operation Redblock and Operation Stop. It was noted at the meetings in Jacksonville that some carriers are no longer supporting these self-help programs. The employee assistance programs are extremely important, and BLET members can play a key role in reversing this alarming trend by taking a more active role in these self-help programs.

 

© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen