PG&E plans to start the initial DOT drug and alcohol testing the week of April 3, 2017 and complete the initial testing by the end of April 2017.
Who is subject to DOT testing?
A person is subject to drug testing when that person performs on a gas pipeline an operation, maintenance, or emergency response function.
What covered function do Call Center employees perform?
PG&E believes that Customer Service Representatives who answer gas leak calls perform an emergency response function and are therefore a covered employee under DOT regulations.
What is IBEW 1245’s position on call center reps being subject to DOT drug testing?
IBEW 1245 issued the following press release February 10, 2017:
VACAVILLE, Calif. — In response to PG&E’s voluntary non-compliance statement issued to the CPUC, IBEW Local 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell released the following statement:
“As the union that represents thousands of clerical and physical workers at PG&E, we firmly oppose the company’s determination that Call Center Customer Service Representatives should be subjected to random drug testing. We disagree with the Company’s assertion that these workers fall under the purview of the Department of Transportation (DOT) drug testing policy, and believe that subjecting them to urine tests would amount to a waste of ratepayer money, as well as an invasion of the workers’ privacy.
“The union feels strongly that these workers are not classified as ‘safety-sensitive,’ and should continue to be exempt from invasive and unnecessary DOT drug testing, as they’ve been for the last 30-plus years.”
What actions are being taken by IBEW 1245?
IBEW 1245 has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Company with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and specifically requested that the Board seek 10(j) injunctive relief on IBEW 1245’s behalf in federal district court. If the Board agrees to petition for this relief, and the court grants the 10(j), the injunction would most likely: (1) temporarily block the Company from proceeding with DOT drug testing Call Center Customer Service Representatives, (2) force the Company to rescind their unilaterally-implemented policy, and (3) require the Company to bargain with IBEW 1245 in good faith over any changes to the drug testing procedures going forward.
Additionally, IBEW 1245 filed a Business Manager’s Grievance on this issue as of February 14, 2016. Thus, even if IBEW 1245 is unsuccessful in its claims before the NLRB, we still have an alternative means of challenging the Company’s actions through the grievance process, and possibly at arbitration.
Without a 10(j) injunction, can PG&E begin drug testing Call Center Customer Service Representatives?
If the 10(j) option fails—either because the NLRB opts not to pursue this course of action or because the court denies its petition—then the Company can continue with their plan to institute DOT drug and alcohol testing even while an active Business Manager’s grievance and the NLRB proceedings as regarding the unfair practice charge are ongoing. However, this does not prevent a decision-maker in either forum from fashioning an appropriate and effective remedy in the case that the Company is found to have committed a violation.
What drugs does DOT test for?
DOT drug tests are conducted only using urine specimens. The urine specimens are analyzed for the following drugs/metabolites:
- Marijuana metabolites/THC
- Cocaine metabolites
- Amphetamines (including methamphetamine, MDMA aka Ecstasy)
- Opiates (including codeine, heroin (6-AM), morphine) • Phencyclidine (PCP)
When will I be tested?
PG&E says that in the DOT drug and alcohol testing program you may be tested no sooner than 45 days from the date of notification that you will be put into the program. PG&E Labor Relations has said that employees were notified between February 9-13th and that initial testing of these new entrants into the PG&E DOT testing program will begin during the first week of April 2017.
Will there be meetings explaining the DOT program?
The meetings are scheduled as follows:
DOT information Meeting Dates
- Stockton: Wednesday, 2/22
- Fresno: Monday, 2/27; Friday, 3/3; Wednesday, 3/8
- San Jose: Thursday, 3/2
- Sacramento 2740: Friday, 2/24; Tuesday, 3/7
- Sacramento 2730: Thursday, 3/9
When could I be tested after the initial test?
Safety-sensitive employees are subject to drug or alcohol testing in the following situations:
- Reasonable Suspicion/Cause.
What conduct is prohibited by the regulations?
As a safety-sensitive employee…
- No employee shall use alcohol or illegal drugs at work.
- No employee shall report to work while under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol.
- No employee shall refuse to submit to any test for alcohol or controlled substances.
- No employee shall refuse to submit to any test by adulterating or substituting your specimen.
Can I use prescribed medications & over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and perform safety-sensitive functions?
Prescription medicine and OTC drugs may be allowed. Employees who use any substance that carries a warning label indicating that mental functioning, motor skills, or judgment may be adversely affected, must report this to their supervisor. Such employees must also seek medical advice and written authorization from their attending physician, as appropriate, before performing work-related duties.
If I have a medical marijuana card will I be exempt from the DOT regulations?
The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation does not authorize “medical marijuana” under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for an employee’s positive drug test result. Please note that marijuana remains a drug listed in Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act. It remains unacceptable for any safety‐sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.
If I have a valid prescription for a drug that is tested under the DOT regulations will I be exempt?
If you have a non-negative test result, you will be contacted by the Medical Review Officer (MRO) to discuss the result. You will be afforded an opportunity to provide a medical explanation. The MRO will confirm any prescriptions or medical history that might have affected the test. If a valid medical prescription is provided the sample will be considered a negative.
E.g. If you suffer from ADHD and are prescribed the drug Adderall as a form of treatment your test sample will return positive for amphetamines. Once you provide a proof of the valid prescription your sample will be considered a negative and you will be allowed to return to work.
What is random drug testing and how is it conducted?
The primary purposes of random testing are to deter prohibited drug use and alcohol misuse and to ensure a drug-free workforce. DOT regulations require that covered employees shall be subject to drug and/or alcohol testing on an unannounced and random basis. The Company shall conduct the number of tests equal to at least the percentage set by the DOT of all covered employees each calendar year.
No manager, supervisor, official or agent may select you for testing just because they want to. Under DOT regulations, employers must use a truly random selection process. Each employee must have an equal chance to be selected and tested. Just prior to the testing event, you will be notified of your selection and provided enough time to stop performing your safety-sensitive function and report to the testing location. Failure to show for a test or interfering with the testing process can be considered a refusal.
What is Pre-Duty/Transfer testing?
A pre-employment drug test must be conducted before an individual is transferred or promoted from a non-covered to a covered position, and when he/she is out of the random pool for 30 days or more. This includes when an individual transfers back and forth from a covered position to a non-covered position and back again (i.e., going in and out of the random testing program). This also applies to employees returning from a leave of absence for 30 days or more who have not been participating in the anti-drug plan and have NOT been subject to the random selection process.
What is a Reasonable Suspicion/Reasonable Cause Testing?
You are required to submit to any test (whether drug, alcohol or both) that a supervisor requests based on reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion means that one or more trained supervisors reasonably believes or suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They cannot require testing based on a hunch or guess alone; their suspicion must be based on observations concerning your appearance, behavior, speech and smell that are usually associated with drug or alcohol use.
A refusal by the employee to give a specimen will be treated the same as a verified positive and subject to an evaluation by an SAP and rehabilitation. A refusal to be evaluated will be considered a second verified positive and subject the employee to termination of employment.
What is Post-Accident Testing for Gas Employees?
An accident on a gas pipeline is defined as an “incident” (DOT, 49 CFR 191.3). Incident means any of the following events:
- An event that involves a release of gas from a pipeline; and
- A death, or personal injury necessitating in-patient hospitalization; or
- Estimated property damage of $50,000, not including cost of gas lost, of the operator or others, or both,
- Unintentional estimated gas loss of three million cubic feet or more;
- An event that is significant, in the judgment of the operator, (i.e., management investigative personnel), even though it did not meet the criteria noted above.
The company plans on drug testing Customer Service Representatives who handle an gas leak call that results in a death or injury to the public.
What is Return to duty testing?
If you have violated the prohibited drug & alcohol rules, you are required to take a drug and/or alcohol test before returning to safety-sensitive functions. Failure to pass the return to duty test(s) will be deemed as a second verified positive and will subject the employee to termination of employment.
What is follow-up testing?
Once allowed to return to duty, an employee shall be subject to unannounced direct observation drug and/or alcohol follow-up testing, in addition to random testing for at least 12 months but not more than 60 months. The SAP will determine the frequency and duration of the follow-up testing. The employee must complete a minimum of six tests during the first 12 months after returning to duty. Testing positive for any prohibited drugs or refusing to test during the next sixty (60) month safety-sensitive follow-up period, including legal drugs for which the employee does not have a prescription, or testing positive or refusing to test on a breath alcohol test, the employee will be subject to immediate termination of employment.
Where can I find the most current letter agreement between PG&E and IBEW 1245 regarding DOT Drug Testing?
What are my rights regarding the utilization of a Shop Steward?
- Employees have the right to a Shop Stewards under the following conditions:
- Prior to and during discussions with management prior to a reasonable suspicion test
- Prior to an interview with a Substance Abuse Professional or Medical Review Officer
- Before a discussion to determine a rehabilitation program following a certified positive test
- If the employee believes the collector is not following established procedures outlined in the Random Drug Test Employee Checklist and employee has first contacted the supervisor
What is self-reporting?
Employees in DOT-covered positions who admit to alcohol misuse or controlled substances. Self-reporting is not permitted on the day of any DOT test and must occur 72 hours prior to a scheduled DOT test as well as prior to performing safety sensitive functions.
What happens if I self-report?
Employees in DOT-covered positions who admit to alcohol misuse or controlled substances use will not be subject to disciplinary action for self identification, and are not subject to the federally mandated referral, evaluation and treatment requirements, provided that:
- The employee does not self-identify in order to avoid testing.
- The admission of alcohol misuse or controlled substances use is made prior to performing safety sensitive functions.
- Self-identification is not permitted on the day of any DOT test.
- Self-identification must occur more than 72 hours prior to a scheduled DOT test.
Self-identification means contacting EAP, FFD, DER or the Supervisor to inform them that you have misused alcohol or used controlled substances, fully disclosing the circumstances, scheduling an evaluation with EAP, and timely and fully complying with the recommendations made by EAP for education and/or treatment. An employee who has self-identified is required to successfully complete an educational and/or treatment program, as determined by EAP, must execute a “Voluntary Self-Identification Return to Duty Agreement for DOT-covered Employees” with EAP, acknowledging that he/she must fully comply with all EAP’s recommendations or be subject to termination of employment . He/She must have a Negative DOT Return to Duty drug and/or alcohol test(s) (FMCSA) or NON DOT Return to duty test(s) (PHMSA). Full compliance with EAP’s recommendations must occur within 72 hours of receipt of the recommended education and/or treatment plan or the employee will be subject to termination of employment.
An employee who self-identifies will be removed from duty and not be permitted to return to duty until EAP/SAP determines that he/she has successfully completed the recommended education and/or treatment program and undergone a DOT return to duty test(S) (FMCSA) or NON DOT Return to Duty test(s) (PHMSA) with a result indicating an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02 and/or a verified negative test result for controlled substances. An employee with a result indicating an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02 and/or a verified negative test result for controlled substances will be permitted to return to a DOT-covered position. A verified positive result on a return to duty test will be considered a drug testing violation and will subject the employee to further rehabilitation. If the employee tests positive on his/her subsequent return to duty test, the employee will be discharged.
Upon return to duty, the employee is subject to EAP monitoring and at least six unannounced non-DOT follow-up tests during the subsequent 12 months.
The Company will provide employees with one opportunity to self-identify under this policy during a 60-month period from the date of self-identification.
What are the test procedures and types of drug test results?
Negative drug test results should be available within 24 hours of receipt at the lab. While an employee is waiting for his/her test results, the employee cannot be removed (stand down) from safety-sensitive duty.
When an employer receives a verified positive test result from the Medical Review Officer (MRO), the employee in question must immediately be removed from performing safety sensitive functions. This action will be taken after receiving the initial report from the MRO. The employer cannot wait for the results of a split sample, if it has been requested by the employee, before removing the employee from performing safety-sensitive functions…
If a test is not negative, there are several possible results that the employer may receive:
- Verified Positive – A verified positive test from the MRO indicates that the sample tested positive on the screening test and was confirmed by a more sophisticated testing method (GC/MS). The results are then sent to the MRO who contacts the employee and reviews the results with him/her to determine if there are any medical explanations for the results. If the MRO finds there are no medical explanations for the positive result, the MRO then determines that the test is positive and in violation of the DOT regulations.
- Dilute/Positive – If an employer receives a drug test result indicating that a positive specimen is dilute, it is treated as a positive test. No additional test is administered.
- Dilute/Negative – When a drug test result indicates that a negative specimen is dilute, the employee will be notified immediately to take another test. This is not an observed test. The result of the second test is the result of record. If the second test is also negative and dilute, there cannot be a third test (Unless an immediate observed collection is required by the MRO due to specific criteria). If the employee refuses to take a second test, it is considered a refusal to test and a verified positive.
- Adulterated – An adulterated result indicates that something was ingested or added to the sample to alter the results. Adulterated results are reviewed by the MRO, along with a verification interview with the employee, and reported by the MRO as a “Refusal to Test”.
- Substituted – A substituted result is when an employee’s specimen is determined to be inconsistent with normal human urine. Substituted results are verified by an MRO, along with a verification interview with the employee, and reported by the MRO as a “Refusal to Test”.
- Refusal – A refusal to take a test or a refusal to participate in a required part of the testing procedure is treated the same as a positive test result. It is not a refusal to test if employee declines to drink water during the testing process. The consequences of a refusal include removal from duty, referral to the SAP, completion of SAP recommendations, the return to work process and follow-up testing, discipline or termination of employment.
- Invalid – When a laboratory result indicates that a test is invalid due to an unidentified adulterant or unidentified interfering substance that prevents the laboratory from completing or obtaining a valid drug test result, and the employee cannot provide an explanation and/or a valid prescription for a medication that interfered with the immunoassay test but denies having adulterated the specimen, the MRO must: cancel the test and report to the employer that the test is cancelled; explain the reason for cancellation; and, if necessary under certain circumstances, direct the employer to ensure that an additional collection must take place immediately under direct observation. The employer must wait for the results of the new collection.
- Cancelled – If a test is cancelled it may need to be recollected if a result is required, such as in pre-employment, return to duty or follow-up tests; otherwise, a recollection is not permitted. A cancelled test is neither positive nor negative and the employer cannot attach the consequences of a positive test. Nor can the employer use a cancelled test as a negative test to allow an employee to perform safety-sensitive duties. A cancelled DOT test also cannot be used as a reason to test under company policy.
- Split Sample – The sample provided by the employee will be split between two bottles. An employee who is notified by the MRO that he or she has a verified non-negative test has the opportunity to request that the split sample be analyzed. This request must be made within 72 hours. The employer cannot base the opportunity to analyze the split sample on his or her employee’s ability to pay: The test must take place, if requested by the employee within the 72 hour time limit. The employer can seek reimbursement of the testing fee from the employee. If the primary specimen tests positive adulterated or substituted and the split is not available for testing, an observed recollection is required.
Note: If an employee adulterates or substitutes his/her specimen, it will result in the immediate termination of employment.
What are the verified positive drug test procedures?
- The Medical Review Officer (MRO) shall notify the DER of all verified positive drug tests.
- The DER shall promptly notify the responsible Human Resources Advisor to have the employee removed from his/her job duties.
- Upon notification form the DER, the HR Advisor will work with the exempt supervisor to promptly remove the tested individual from his/her job duties. If the employee qualifies for the First Time Violator’s program, the employee will be sent home pending the start of the return to duty process. If already off duty, the individual will remain off duty until successful completion of the return to duty process.
- An employee who is unable to perform normal job duties because of a removal from work due to a verified positive test will be placed, at the employee’s option on paid sick leave or vacation if available, or unpaid leave.
- The employee will be reinstated to full job duties upon approval of the Substance Abuse Professional and completion of the return to duty test.
- If an employee does not agree with the MRO’s decision of a verified positive controlled substance test, he/she can request that the MRO authorize the lab to conduct an analysis of the second part of the “split sample” being held in the laboratory. This analysis will be performed by another PG&E contracted laboratory. The specimen is tested for the presence of the drug(s) for which a positive result was obtained in the test of the first part. The results of this test are transmitted to the MRO without regard to the cutoff values stipulated on the DOT regulations. The MRO shall honor such request if it is made within 72 hours of the employee’s having actual notice that he or she tested positive.
- If the results of the test on the second part of the “split sample” are positive, the “verified positive”: test result is validated and the employee will be required to follow the SAP’s instructions.
- If the results of the test on the second part of the “split sample”: are negative, the “verified positive”: test will be changed to a negative test result and reported to the DER.
- Testing of an additional urine specimen is not authorized by the DOT regulations and, therefore, will not be recognized by the Company and the Union.
- Following an initial verified positive result, the employee will be required to complete the return-to-duty process with a Substance Abuse Professional, follow his/her instructions, and comply with the treatment/education recommendations and be subject to follow up testing. A non-compliance letter from a Substance Abuse Professional will result in discharge.