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Ruling upholds ban on Suncor drug and alcohol testing program

FORT MCMURRAY, AB, March 26, 2014 /CNW/ - A majority of an Arbitration Panel has ruled that the random drug and alcohol testing of all employees at a Suncor site outside of Fort McMurray violates the fundamental rights of workers to privacy, respect, and dignity in the workplace and cannot be justified in the circumstances.

"Random drug testing of workers that have done nothing wrong is a violation of their basic rights," said Roland Lefort, president of Unifor Local 707A. "We will work with Suncor to achieve the highest possible levels of workplace safety with education and prevention, not invasive medical procedures."

The ruling, released today, resulted from a grievance filed on behalf of Union members at the Suncor Oilsands operations. A PDF version of the ruling can be downloaded at

When Suncor announced the unilateral implementation of random drug and alcohol testing in its Oilsands operations in 2012 the Union filed a grievance on behalf of its members and applied for an injunction. An injunction was granted to Unifor (then CEP) to block Suncor's implementation of random until the case could be heard by an Arbitration Panel. An Arbitration Panel was convened and commenced hearing argument and evidence in January 2013. The hearings continued over 23 days and were concluded in late November 2013.

At the time of the announcement and resulting grievance, Suncor already had in place a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy that included Post-Incident and Reasonable Cause testing. That comprehensive policy was not affected by the ongoing litigation.

"There is no evidence that random testing improves safety, which is why Unifor is committed to more reliable methods to keep our members safe on the job while respecting the dignity of our members," said Jerry Dias, Unifor's National President.

Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 300,000 members, Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector.