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West Virginia Governor Orders Job Trainee Drug Testing

By Phillip Smith April 26, 2012 West Virginia Governor Orders Job Trainee Drug Testing
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CHARLESTON, WV — It’s not just Republicans hopping on the drug testing bandwagon. On Tuesday, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, issued an executive order requiring people who seek state-funding job training to first pass a drug test.

The order turns a pledge from this year’s State of the State address into reality. It calls for mandatory, suspicionless drug testing of all participants in the Workforce West Virginia program, which provides training for youths, adults, and displaced workers.

“I continuously hear from business leaders located all across the state, that they have jobs available but the candidates cannot pass a pre-employment drug screening,” Tomblin said in astatement. “When this happens, we have wasted taxpayer dollars, hurt our businesses, and limit our economic growth.”

Tuesday’s order requires testing for 10 categories of drugs and will deny training for applicants for 90 days if they test positive. A second flunked test will bar them for one year. The order allows applicants to appeal over test results. The state will pay for the drug tests and will hire an outside contractor to administer them.

Last year, Indiana became the first state to require people seeking job training to undergo drug tests. West Virginia is so far the only other state to follow.

Tomblin has proven quite a fan of drug testing. He successfully championed a measure this year that requires random drug tests for safety-sensitive jobs in the state’s coal-mining industry. The bill was part of a broader mine safety package inspired by the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster in which 29 miners died. Autopsy results showed no evidence that any of those men were using drugs.

Labor leaders and other workers’ rights advocates have questioned the need for drug testing. West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue has challenged industries to show more evidence that drug use among the state’s workforce is a problem. He told the Charleston Daily Mail he thought it was an excuse for companies to hire out-of-state.

“I do believe that the over-abuse of drugs in this state is not as bad as everybody makes it to be,” Perdue said Tuesday. “I’ve talked to too many people and learned of too many cases that show that it’s not as serious as they say.”

No word yet on any legal challenges to the executive order or the miner drug testing bill.