MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – It’s an unusual offer, to say the least.
Representatives from the West Virginia Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) Foundation plan to set up at the state capitol Wednesday. They are offering free drug testing to any West Virginia lawmaker who wants to take part.
“It’s a full test. We have a third-party professional who’s doing it,” ACT Director Steve White told WEPM on ‘Panhandle Live’. “We will not know an individual’s results. If this was our job site, they’d lock the doors of the chamber, they would have generated a computer list of ten percent. So in the house 10 people, they’d say ‘you 10 come with us right now you’re going to take a test’. That’s the only way to have a real drug free work zone.”
White said it is an effort to educate legislators and remove the stigma that leads many to believe West Virginia workers can’t pass a drug test.
“We care about a safe workplace. So we want legislators to understand what it is to take a drug test. But number two, we’re really fed up with people saying they can’t find qualified, drug-free workers in West Virginia. Because if it’s the construction industry they’re talking about, it’s just untrue. We have the folks. We’re proud of the folks. They’ve proven themselves to be drug free.”
White says the numbers, in fact, dispute that. Nationally, there is a 15 percent fail rate among construction workers who are tested for drugs. In West Virginia, he says, that rate drops down to two percent:
White said drug tests are all about ensuring safety on the job. He said if workers are having an adult beverage over the weekend, that’s none of his business, but come Monday, he needs to know those employees are clean and sober.
“It’s an awareness for the legislators, it’s not a ‘gotcha’ thing for them. They talk about drug testing in various ways, they should know what they’re talking about.”
Despite the unusual offer at the Capitol Wednesday, White says offering to drug test the state’s lawmakers is not an indication that they’re exhibiting signs of being impaired.
In a release, the council touted its 20 year history of promoting a safe work environment and creating an available, drug-free workforce in the Mountain State.
The tests are, and will remain confidential and will only be handled by a third-party professional company; however, the number of participating lawmakers, separated by chamber with pass/fail ratios, will be released to the public in about a week after the testing.
The event takes place Wednesday, February 13th at a table in the lower rotunda of the Capitol from 10 am until 2 pm.