Pubdate: Sun, 30 Apr 2000
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The Gazette Newspapers
Contact:  P.O. Box 1090, Schenectady, NY 12301-1090
Fax: (518) 395-3072
Author: Walter F. Wouk


The plight of three Schenectady County Highway Department drivers who were
unfairly labeled as drug abusers because of botched drug tests (April 19
story), underscores the need to abolish mandatory drug testing in the

In the 1950s, employers spooked by the Red Menace instituted mandatory
loyalty oaths, forcing employees to forswear any ties to communism. In the
1990s, marijuana replaced communism as the great threat to our society and
urine drug testing became mandatory for many Americans.

Urine tests are body searches, and they are an unprecedented invasion of
privacy. The standard practice in administering such tests is to require
employees to urinate in the presence of a witness, to guard against specimen
tampering. Today, millions of American workers every year, in both the
public and private sectors, are subjected to urinalysis drug tests as a
condition for getting or keeping a job.

Such tests are unnecessary, because they cannot detect current impairment
and do not enhance an employer's ability to evaluate or predict job
performance. If employers in transportation and other industries are really
concerned about the public's safety, they can administer computer-assisted
performance tests, which have been used by NASA for years on astronauts and
test pilots. These tests can actually measure hand-eye coordination and
response time, do not invade people's privacy, and can improve safety far
better than drug tests can.

Forcing an individual to submit to a test to prove their innocence or their
loyalty is not the practice of a free society. It is fundamentally

WALTER F. WOUK, Cobleskill
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