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10/24/2008



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

USDOT’s 'invasive' urine-sample collection rule to take effect despite pending lawsuit, BLET says


A U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) rule that will require rail and transit workers to be observed when providing a urine sample for mandatory drug tests will go into effect next month despite an ongoing rail labor union/railroad lawsuit that seeks to block it.

The USDOT’s amendment to Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs will take effect Nov. 1. The rule applies to urine specimen collection in all return-to-duty cases following a positive drug test, and follow-up test after a positive drug test.

Under current regulations, a railroad retained the discretion to require direct observation while a worker provided a urine sample, but that discretion will be replaced by a mandate, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (BLET) officials said.

“The DOT admits that its only evidence in support of … mandatory direct observation is anecdotal, proving once again that the new rule is a solution in search of a problem,” said BLET President Ed Rodzwicz in a prepared statement.

In August, the BLET along with seven other rail labor unions and BNSF Railway Co. filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that challenges the rule on constitutional and statutory grounds. The parties obtained a delay in the rule’s enforcement from Aug. 25 to Nov. 1. The case has been docketed and the parties are awaiting a court schedule.

“We will continue to pursue every available avenue to protect BLET members from the humiliating and invasive course DOT has insisted upon,” said Rodzwicz.


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