Copyright 2008, Traffic World, Inc.
After being criticized as too lax, the Department of Transportation will implement stringent new drug testing rules at the end of the month, but transportation unions are worried the DOT regulations go too far.
"They are going to tell their employees to literally pull down their pants and lift up their skirts," said Larry Willis, general counsel for the AFL-CIO''s Transportation Trades Department.
The Department of Transportation contends the new rules will make it more difficult for truck drivers and other transportation workers to cheat on drug tests, a problem that has been outlined in Congress and by federal investigators with the Government Accountability Office.
But unions are concerned about a provision in the new rules aimed at keeping "prosthetic" devices out of drug tests that require direct observation.
"DOT is going to be asking workers to pull their pants down and turn around in front of an observer," Willis said.
The AFL-CIO group is also opposed to the rules because it says unions were not given ample opportunity to comment on the new rules, which are scheduled to go into effect Aug. 25.
The Transportation Trades Department, which represents 32 transportation unions ranging from rail workers to airline pilots, is circulating a petition asking DOT not to implement provisions of the rule in which "direct observation" or other "extremely intrusive" testing is required.
Though the DOT''s new rules have been in the rulemaking process for years, they are especially timely given they come on the heels of a large amount of attention - and criticism - the department''s drug testing program received earlier this summer.
"We want to make sure there are no doubts about the ability of anyone working in transportation do their job as safely as possible," Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said in a statement earlier this summer.