Pubdate: Thu, 6 May 1999
Source: Associated Press
Copyright: 1999 Associated Press


NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Workers at the Anheuser-Busch brewery here have
mounted a legal challenge over whether their bosses can clip locks of
their hair to test for evidence of drug use.

Teamsters Local 102, which represents 900 employees, has sued St.
Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, arguing that the nation's largest brewer
has no right to collect such bodily samples. The lawsuit also
challenges the accuracy and constitutionality of the hair analysis.

The dispute coincides with an ongoing contract impasse at the plant.
The deadlock has led to the company imposing its final contract offer,
which includes the new drug testing program.

U.S. District Court Judge John Lifland last week in Newark denied the
brewer's attempt to have the case moved from state court to federal

Among those angered by the drug testing policy are veteran machinist
Frederick Wedekin, who recently submitted a tiny portion of his hair
to avoid the risk of dismissal.

``I've never had anybody cut my hair without my permission unless it
was my mother and father when I was a young kid,'' Wedekin, 53, of
Belleville, told The Star-Ledger for Thursday's editions. ``I felt

Another worker shaved off all of his body hair in protest, the
newspaper reported. Technicians had to clip off a fingernail sample to
complete his drug test.

Anheuser-Busch formerly required a urine test, the method still used
by more than 90 percent of firms that test for illegal drugs such as
marijuana and cocaine, according to the American Management

Experts in hair analysis said companies using the method for drug
testing include General Motors and casino operators in Las Vegas and
Atlantic City. Officials at Psychemedics Corp., based in Cambridge,
Mass., said they provide the service for more than 1,500 corporate
clients, including Anheuser-Busch -- plus some police departments,
Federal Reserve banks, hospitals and universities.

Local 102 chief executive officer Jack Riley said the union hopes to
stage a nationwide protest against the hair tests.

``We are not going to accept this lying down,'' he

Anheuser-Busch officials said they believe in the reliability of the
hair samples. Evidence of drug use can remain in hair for months,
proponents of the test argue. Urine tests generally detect drugs used
only in the previous few hours or days.

Eric Schmitz, Anheuser-Busch's vice president for labor relations,
said accurate drug testing is important because brewery employees work
with heavy machinery and dangerously hot liquids.

Union officials in Newark said at least two workers were discharged
after testing positive for drugs since February.
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