Decision reaffirms union’s stance against random drug and alcohol testing
EDMONTON – Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a major victory in the fight against random and arbitrary privacy violations through drug and alcohol testing.
The case, which stems from a grievance filed by Communications Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Local 30 in New Brunswick, has implications to similar cases in Alberta’s oil sands. Labour leaders hailed the decision as a victory for human rights.
“This decision is in line with years of jurisprudence, makes sense, and is in the interest of Canadians. Employers can’t arbitrarily introduce a random drug or alcohol testing regime by declaring a workplace “dangerous” without proving that there’s a problem,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “There’s a direct parallel between this case and what’s happening at Suncor: there’s no evidence that there’s a problem and the employer can’t simply impose their will on the worker and strip them of their privacy without proving there’s one.”
In 2006, CEP Local 30 challenged Irving Pulp and Paper Inc.’s decision to impose random workplace drug and alcohol testing without first proving that there was a problem. In a 6-3 decision released on Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of CEP’s position that the impact on employee privacy was too severe to justify random testing.
The Court ruled that the dangerousness of a workplace doesn’t give an employer free reign to run roughshod over employee’s rights.
“A unilaterally imposed policy of mandatory, random and unannounced testing for all employees in a dangerous workplace has been overwhelmingly rejected by arbitrators as an unjustified affront to the dignity and privacy of employees unless there is reasonable cause, such as a general problem of substance abuse in the workplace,” Justice Abella wrote. “This is not to say that an employer can never impose random testing in a dangerous workplace. If it represents a proportionate response in light of both legitimate safety concerns and privacy interests, it may well be justified.”
CEP local 30 from New Brunswick brought the case forward, we were interveners on the case, as was CEP 707 representing Suncor workers, because the Alberta Federation of Labour and affiliated unions believe in a worker’s right to privacy.
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email [email protected].
Issue: Edmonton Catholic Schools Support Staff, members of CEP Local 52A went out on strike today, September 10, 2012. They are on strike for negotiated wage increases and working hours. The employer, Edmonton Catholic School District, refuses to negotiate the second year of wages on a two-year contract and instead wants to put into place a wage re-opener provision.
Actions Requested: Join CEP Local 52A members on the picket lines in Edmonton from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. See locations listed on the Edmonton Catholic Support Staff Association website at http://www.ecssa.ca. The central picket is located at the district's head office at 9807 – 106 Street.
When: Today and until Edmonton Catholic Schools support staff goes back to work.
Edmonton Catholic Schools Support Staff on Strike
Edmonton Catholic Schools Support Staff from CEP local 52A are on strike for negotiated wage increases and working hours. The employer, Edmonton Catholic School District, refuses to negotiate the second year of wages on a two-year contract and instead wants to put into place a wage re-opener provision. Staff is also facing the erosion of full time positions and increased workload. Workers have less time to meet the needs of students. The membership is comprised of all Edmonton Catholic Schools support staff which includes all media resource (library) staff, teacher assistants, secretarial and clerical staff, instructors, coordinators, counselors and printing services staff.
Sisters and brothers are encouraged to join workers from CEP 52A on the picket lines from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the locations listed on the Edmonton Catholic Support Staff Association website: http://www.ecssa.ca/. The central picket is located at the district's head office 9807 –106 Street, Edmonton. The picket is from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM.
For day-to-day information, please call Ishani, Director of Special Projects at the AFL: 780-483-3021.