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Department & Division News

USPS Publishes New Drug And Alcohol Testing Policy

(This article appeared in the September/October 2010 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Bob Pritchard, Motor Vehicle Division Director

In July, the Postal Service finally published a new Drug and Alcohol Testing policy that requires management to offer a Last Chance Agreement to employees who fail a drug test for the first time. The new policy became effective Dec. 31, 2009.

We announced in early spring that the Postal Service had agreed to change the rules on drug and alcohol testing to include the benefit of a Last Chance Agreement. It seems like forever and a day, as management dragged their feet, but the new policy, Alcohol and Drug Testing of Employees with a Commercial Drivers License (PO 720-2010-1) [PDF], is finally official.

The new MI is a major breakthrough, because it requires the Postal Service to give Commercial Drivers License holders who fail a drug test an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and return to their duties. The Last Chance Agreement included in the new policy stipulates that the employee must complete a rehabilitation program and pass another drug test before returning to duty. Once the employee returns to work, he or she will be specially monitored by management, which is standard in cases where employees are given a “last chance” opportunity to return to work.

MVS Division officers fought for the revised policy because we felt it was a shame that in many instances, union members lost their careers over one bad decision or the consequences of that bad judgment. We look forward to seeing the implementation of the new policy, and for the revised MI to be put in full force.

However, the membership must not look at this new testing policy as a free pass: It definitely is not. No one should operate a motor vehicle — commercial or private — while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you feel you have a drug or alcohol problem, please contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

It is important to note the effective date of the new policy was Dec. 31, 2009, which means the MI is enforceable for anyone facing removal as a result of a first offense positive drug test this year. We hope the new MI will result in a smooth transition for these employees when they return to postal positions.