Kauai union saysBy Gary Kubota
drug testing should
The Hawaii Government Employees Association believes any mandatory drug testing of members who work for Kauai County needs to be negotiated, according to a union official.
Gerald Ako, the association's division head on Kauai, made the comment in response to discussions by the Kauai County Council about establishing mandatory drug testing.
"Basically, we believe if it alters working conditions, it becomes a negotiable item subject to the collective bargaining agreement," Ako said.
Ako said the union does not condone illegal drug use of any kind and is willing to talk with county officials if there is any problem.
Kauai Council members have asked the county attorney's office to research the issue.
Councilman James Tokioka said he is not personally against taking a drug test himself, but feels a number of points raised during the Council meeting yesterday need to be clarified.
Tokioka said he agrees with the intent of Kauai Mayor Maryanne Kusaka's effort to create a drug-free environment on the Garden Island.
At Kusaka's suggestion, Council members have been considering taking drug tests to demonstrate they are not above other county employees Tokioka said.
The American Civil Liberties Union testified it opposed any policy instituting mandatory, indiscriminate drug testing of county workers, administrators and elected officials.
Sandy Ma, the ACLU's legal director, said results of drug tests do not measure intoxication or impairment at the workplace, nor are they reliable.
Ma said commonly used drug tests yield false positive results at least 10 percent, and possibly as much as 30 percent, of the time.
Ma said some over-the-counter drugs have been known to produce positive results for heroin, marijuana or amphetamines.
A more effective method is to use computer-assisted performance tests which measure hand-eye coordination, she said.