Thursday, January 04, 2007


One Strike and You're Out!

[Thanks to William Bruno for the following. --Pat]


The proposed drug policy appears to be "one strike and you're out".

Unfortunately, someone failing a drug test may have a 50% chance of being innocent.

This article from US News & World Report, 2002 (below) says the best drug tests are 99% accurate. If 1% of LANL uses drugs, then 50% of those who fail a random test are innocent.

Unless the accuracy is improved to 99.99% or higher (and that has to include human error, like swapping labels, reading the machine wrong, failing to clean the machine, contaminating the sample, which all are plausible at the 1 in 10,000 test level) it is completely unethical to implement a 1 strike policy for random screens.

I hereby volunteer myself to be tested as one of the 10,000 to see if the error rate is low enough. But the test sample should also include those who use Robitussin, Tylenol, diet pills, herbal remedies, weight-lifter's supplements, wear hemp clothing, frequent bars, work in an organic chemistry lab, etc.



From/MS: Doris Heim, ADBS, A108
Phone/Fax: 7-1973/7-5624
Symbol: ADBS-07-001
Date: January 3, 2007

Subject: Policy Changes Opportunity to Review and Comment

As Director Anastasio discussed at the All Employee Meeting on December 19, this notice is to inform employees of the revised Substance Abuse policy and to provide an opportunity for employee input prior to implementation. Additionally, the Director indicated that there would be a comment period for all significant policy changes. Thus, revisions for the Complaint Resolution and Discipline policies are also included for your review. The key features of each policy are outlined below.

Substance Abuse: IMP 732 (replaces AM 110)
The purpose of the substance abuse policy is to ensure that all LANL workers are provided a work environment that is drug-free, safe, and that LANL is in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. The new substance abuse policy reflects today’s environment and the need to take greater precautions to ensure a workplace that is safe, secure and demonstrates that we are worthy of our nation’s trust. The policy includes pre-employment and random drug testing for LANL employees and subcontractors; drug and/or alcohol testing on the basis of reasonable suspicion; and, drug and/or alcohol testing following an incident or accident that results in a serious injury.

Complaint Resolution Program (CRP): IMP 791 (replaces AM 111)
The purpose of this program is to resolve certain workplace disputes between an employee and his/her management. This policy is updated to improve the quality of the program. CRP is an integral part of the Laboratory’s effort to promote “free and open expression” of concerns. The policy includes a management review and a higher-level management review during which HR Employee Relations will investigate complaints not already investigated. In specific cases, external mediation and binding arbitration can also be used.

Discipline: IPP 731 (replaces AM 112)
This policy outlines when and how to employ the disciplinary process, and provides procedures to implement in the event that employee conduct or performance does not meet expectations. IPP 731 replaces both AM 112 and AM 109.14 – 18, also known as the Performance Action Track (PAT).

The draft policies have been posted to the policy center on-line at:
Please review the draft policies and send comments to policy@ by February 5, 2007. Given the subject of these draft policies, additional information and resources are available to employees and managers on-line at HR’s Employee Relations website: Comments will be reviewed and information regarding implementation will be provided through the standard Laboratory policy notification system.

[Note that we still don't have the ACTUAL online draft to post, since no one has yet offered to send me the pdf file from within the Lab. Finally, a critical question: Is the act of commenting a Catch-22? That is, if a LANL employee makes critical comments, will that result in him/her being put on a "PAT" (Performance Action Track)? --Pat, the Dog (yes, I get the irony)]

Good grief, get a grip. Many of us at LANL have been subjected to random drug tests for over a decade (PSAP) and to my knowledge, not a single person has alleged any type of disciplinary action as a result of a false positive. There are substantial controls in place (TIDs, split samples, etc.) to protect against this concern. Further, these's a substantial difference between self-admitted drug use (which under PSAP doesn't get you fired and does get you into rehab) and non-admitted use, which can and should result in discipline. Frankly, this sounds like so-much whinning from a segment of the staff that hasn't been subjected to this policy. Many of us have been under a one-strike policy for years. Many, many, many other employees in other industries are subjected to random drug tests including one-strike policies. Honestly, we're coming across as a bunch of whinners.
Apropos, from today's CNN Business News:

The high price of workplace mistrust
With rights to privacy and participation eroding, many employees are heading for the exits. When that happens, everybody loses.
Business 2.0 Magazine
By Jeffrey Pfeffer, Business 2.0 Magazine columnist
January 5 2007: 9:40 AM EST

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- Count me as one of the few people in America who harbor no sympathy for the handful of wealthy directors in the Hewlett-Packard boardroom who were spied on, "pretexted," and subject to any of the other tricks that HP's investigative sleuths had up their sleeves.

It's not that I don't take privacy rights seriously - far from it.
More from Business 2.0
The high price of workplace mistrust
15 surprise innovations in 2007
Patents of the rich and famous
Fastest Growing Tech Companies
Current Issue
Subscribe to Business 2.0

It's just that had Tom Perkins or George Keyworth been subject to the same standards as all 150,000 employees at HP (Charts), there would be no need to call in the private eyes.

That's because, if they'd done any communicating while on the job or using company networks and equipment, devising a ruse to see who they had called or what Internet communications they'd had would have been superfluous.
How to protect your privacy at work

According to a 2005 American Management Association survey of employers, 76 percent monitor workers' website connections and 55 percent retain and review e-mail messages. Since 2001 the portion of employers monitoring employee telephone use, which includes tracking the amount of time spent on the phone as well as the specific numbers called, has jumped from 9 percent to 51 percent. Testing workers for drug use has become routine.

In effect, employees now completely surrender their privacy if they want a paycheck.
Too little loyalty

I'm also with the minority when it comes to shareholder rights. Many advocates think shareholders should be able to do more than merely withhold their votes; they should be able to nominate slates of directors without going through the expense of a proxy fight, boot directors who don't get a majority, and more easily take other measures against management.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a big fan of democracy and transparency. But I don't see why everyone seems so obsessed with the rights of shareholders who, given average portfolio turnover, often don't own company shares for even a year, when we can be so cavalier about the rights of employees who have much more personal capital and economic well-being at stake.

It isn't just shareholders who become disenfranchised by company management - employees do too. But unlike capital, employees can't bail out quite so fast.
Too much turnover

Maybe we ought to be more concerned about employee rights for their own sake - and because their lack ultimately hurts employers.

In 1970, Albert Hirschman wrote "Exit, Voice, and Loyalty," which has become an influential treatise on the consequences of customer and employee disaffection. Hirschman argued that when people are dissatisfied, they have a choice: complain and try to change things, or leave. Without rights and protections, workers won't stay for long. But give them the opportunity to make things better, aided by rights and protections to get their voices heard, and they're more likely to stay and become more loyal to their organizations. Hirschman found that voice, therefore, builds loyalty.

Moreover, when employees quit, problems become visible but solutions are slower to emerge. Voice brings problems to the surface more quickly, and when people can express why they're dissatisfied, diagnosis is easier. Therefore, Hirschman showed, voice is a more reliable way of managing. And effective voice depends on having the right to be heard and some protection against retaliation.

With fewer rights to privacy and participation, it's no surprise that employees are heading for the exits in droves.

Since 2004, turnover of executives, salespeople, and production employees has nearly doubled, while turnover of professional and technical personnel has jumped about 70 percent. All those workers take their skills and know-how with them.

So perhaps it makes sense for companies to rethink their approach to employee rights and align them more with those of investors and board members. That kind of attention and concern can only make everyone better off.

Business 2.0 columnist Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.
To 1/05 7:16,

You seem to know something about how these tests are done, but what do you think the false positive rate is, and what evidence is there to support your thinking?
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