Mar 3

An announcement of unusual importance to every business owner

FOUR years ago, the Mechanical Contractors Association of Greater Kansas City, with help from the Kansas Association of Addiction Professionals, adopted and implemented a Drug Abuse Policy following negotiations with Plumbers Local No. 8 and Pipe Fitters Local No. 533.

In announcing it to the public, MCA said:



“It is our policy to provide a safe and healthful workplace for all employees. We understand that the construction industry is an inherently dangerous industry that is internally regulated by a variety of local, state and federal regulations. We recognize the problems and hazards associated with the use of drugs, alcohol and controlled substances.

“The purpose of this policy and program is to establish and promote a safe, efficient and productive working environment for all employees by providing a workplace and workforce free from illegal drugs, alcohol and controlled substances. This policy shall apply to all employees performing work covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreements. Each employer shall have in place a similar policy which shall apply to all other employees.”

If the contractors and two unions were starting to create an agreement and contract today, or asked to restate the policy, the parties involved would not change one sentence or one word of the original announcement. In plain, simple language, it gives the reason for the very existence of the Association and explains its membership growth.

MCA is still proud of the record of its proven drug policy. If the Association were not, it would not have continued to implement it for so long.

Just recently, for example, the fourth annual month-long drug screening was conducted in seven different area locations. The screening brought the total number of employees tested to nearly 6,900 in 22 counties throughout the metropolitan area. Again MCA scored a record low number of positive cases. Its 1.61 percent is dramatically below the construction industry national average between 17 and 22 percent.

Although the drug policy does not include random testing, it does mandate a rigorous annual testing during the month of June. This is required of all employees who are with the same contractor firm in the 12-month period. If the worker transfers to another firm, the testing is conducted semi-annually.

Drugs–the robber of all work efficiency

Substance abuse knows no season for the staggering hazards it presents. Compared with the average employee, a typical drug-using employee in today’s various work-places is 2.2 times more likely to request time off … 3 times more likely to be late for work … 3.6 times more likely to injure himself/herself or another person in an accident … 5 times more likely to be involved in an accident … 5 times more likely to file for worker’s compensation … 7 times more likely to have wage garnishments, and is 33 percent less productive.

MCA has conducted a policy to meet contemporary conditions

MCA realizes that conditions in the construction industry have so greatly deteriorated in the past few years that necessary correction in workforce performance is desirable. So the Association has crafted a policy that’s proven its effectiveness.

The cooperative involvement of MCA, Local 8, and Local 533 working together led to a unified effort with Lockton Companies, Inc.; CorporateCare Occupational Medicine Network, a division of the Saint Luke’s Shawnee Mission Health System; management; and counselors.

Sensible clear guidelines and workable procedures

The proven drug policy is more than a blueprint for today. It goes further. It anticipates the needs of 2001, of 2002, of 2003.

The proven drug policy is strikingly different than previous efforts to deal with the serious health, financial, and societal problems of substance abuse.

In developing the program, numerous requirements were specified. These included Drug Testing Cards, Annual Billing Program, Medical Review Officer (a licensed physician), Employee Assistance Program Training for Employer Review Officers, Confidentiality of Employees, Project Management, and Probable Cause Record-Keeping.

Careful guidelines are built into the testing program. For example, if Probable Cause is cited, two persons–union and contractor–must observe and document. If there is an OSHA-related accident, the contractor has a right to request a test.

There are some consequences for those who test positive. One is suspension. Another is counseling. If a person tests positive twice in a year, he/she will be dropped from the union. Ten different substances and an alcohol level are followed as determined by the federal government.

Time and effort devoted to preparing policy

The proven drug policy has not been planned and made in a day. The MCA contractors began work on it several years ago. In May, 1996, committees were assigned by the MCA and both unions. A preliminary committee of the contractors took three meetings in one month to review eight to ten policies in place around the country. The committee also studied the policy of the U.S. Government and reviewed a draft of its own. Then a committee was formed by MCA to present the draft to committees of Local 8 and Local 533.

The first joint session of Locals 8 and 533 plus MCA met on December 23, 1996. Thereafter, the joint group met weekly. On January 8, 1997, the group convened to examine the MCA draft and the union draft, reviewing each article one by one. On April 1, the group completed the reviews, 60 days before its target date. The unions now had 60 days to educate their workers. The contractors themselves had 60 days to review the steps required by management.

What all this means to you as a business owner

The effort described above means that if you are planning to have a building constructed, you no longer have to worry about creating and implementing your own drug policy for workers who are hired on the job to follow. That’s because MCA contractors now have one in place for you. It’s a process the MCA does annually. Even the service workers are drug tested.

That’s not all.

If you are a building owner or facilities manager, you are assured of quality, skilled performance by the contractors who use the highly trained, drug-free workers of Plumbers Local 8 and Pipe Fitters 533. This translates into your project being completed on time and within budget.

If you are a business enterprise leasing or renting offices or manufacturing space, you have the confidence of knowing you’ll be utilizing physical quarters that meet the rigid, high standards of safe, healthful, and contamination-free construction.

Because MCA strongly adheres to a philosophy of value, we consider it our most important contribution to the construction industry and business community.

IF YOU would like more information on The Proven MCA Drug Policy, the Association has available a 23-Point Checklist of what to look for regarding Attendance, Behavior, and Job Performance plus a valuable 18-Step Flow Chart that will let you see clearly the sequence of every phase in the program.

leave a reply