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Hawaii Teachers Union Fends Off Random Drug Testing Proposal

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Urine Sampleby Phillip Smith

There will be no random drug testing of Hawaii public school teachers. A battle that began in 2007 came to a quiet end earlier this month, when the state government imposed its “last, best, and final” offer to the teachers union — an offer that does not include random drug testing.

Hawaii teachers won’t have to provide these to keep their jobs. (image via wikimedia.org)

The controversy began when the state Board of Education inserted language into the union contract saying the union and the board “shall establish a reasonable suspicion and random drug and alcohol testing procedure for teachers.” The language came in the wake of a handful of widely publicized drug busts of teachers in Hawaii in previous years.

Hawaii State Teachers Association members voted to ratify the contract, but soon, teachers and the HSTA, along with civil libertarians, raised concerns about random drug testing and balked at going along with that contract provision. Gov. Linda Lingle (R) accused teachers of not acting in good faith, and the provision was stalled by challenges at the Hawaii Labor Relations Board and in state court.

The random testing provision ran into another obstacle when the Board of Education in 2008 refused to pay for the tests. The board argued that the nearly half million dollar cost could be better spent in the classroom.

HawaiiNeither the board nor the union have commented publicly on the demise of the random drug testing provision, but, unsurprisingly, the ACLU is quite happy.

“The ACLU is pleased that none of Hawaii’s educators has been subjected to unconstitutional random drug testing,” said Daniel Gluck, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Hawaii. “I’m fairly confident it’s not going to come up again,” he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

While random drug testing is gone, the board and the union agreed to continue a reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing policy. Under that policy, teachers who test positive face suspensions of from five to thirty days and will be asked to resign after a third positive test result. Teachers who admit to being impaired or on drugs prior to being tested will not be suspended, but will be required to submit to drug testing for up to a year.

The dropping of the random drug testing provision is one of the few bright spots for Hawaii teachers in the new contract. They may not have to pee in a cup for no good reason, but they will have to endure wage cuts and higher health care premiums.

Artilcle From StoptheDrugWar.orgCreative Commons Licensing

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  • Lena Butler

    It’s sad to say, but Hawaii does have a lot of struggles with drug abuse. This can explain it much better than I can; http://www.testcountry.com/content/hawai-drug-abuse-and-testing-resource-guide.html

  • Raylando

    It is true that Employers have the right to request that you pass a drug screening for employment. In principal it may seem only just to then require Welfare recipients to be tested. The emotional frustration comes from the idea that Welfare recipients may be using their benefits (such as food) for drugs. Or if they are using illegal drugs with ‘other’ money then they shouldnt be fed by someone else’s labor. I get that. Also one may conclude that this will lower drug use among the poorest in society.

    The reality unfortunately is this: Drug Companies and Labs benefit by making money on testing. Everyone who does drugs knows how to pass the tests, you may know someone who has. So, being tested will not mean that they dont do drugs. Nothing will change as far as drug use among Welfare recipients but they will be more desperate for money to buy kits to pass the test. In addition, and this it the MOST dangerous aspect that I see; The GOVERNMENT and not the Private EMPLOYER will now have a LEGAL right to test a portion of the U.S. population. Now just ponder on that for a moment. Not a private sector employer. Is it worth YOUR rights as a citizen to have Welfare recipient’s tested? Could that same law be extended to Social Security recipients, government retirees on pension, every licensed driver in the U. S. So now they can stop you, a Police officer can require you to take a test for alcohol, if you refuse then a Police Officer may take your license on the spot. This means that now, there is a legal precedent for assuming you are committing a crime and exacting an immediate punishment on you with out a trial or a judge, or at least it assumes that refusing to do so is in fact breaking the law. Now, you may say that you shouldnt drink and drive, you shouldnt do illegal drugs at all, and you might feel that you dont mind having an honest, respectful, serve and protect officer stop you and administer the test. But the first time that you find yourself before a dishonest, disrespectful abuser of power you will wish like hell you had your rights back. But you wont get them back because you are just ‘one in a million’ where something went wrong. You wont have throngs of people to change the law to protect JUST YOU. But do you know what? That is EXACTLY what our Constitution stands for…to protect EACH and EVERY Citizen’s rights. We often say that it is ‘better to let a hunderd guilty persons go than to convict ONE innocent person. We will not stop drug abuse by testing, you will not keep Welfare recipients from finding ways to get drugs or to pass tests. These laws will make Pharmacies, drug companies and labs MORE money, they will empower Government with invasive authority. Employers require DRUG TESTING..so MAKE A WELFARE RECIPIENT WORK AND LET THEM BE TESTED BY THEIR EMPLOYER! Now you solve the situation THEY MUST WORK TO GET BENEFITS…THEY MUST GET TESTED TO WORK and the Governments (State and Federal) can do their business of fixing the economy and not their People.

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    benefits are now on a card and is not so easily traded for things other than food although of course through bartering by buying food for a drug dealer might still work I suppose they eat too!)