Human resources and management

Random drug and alcohol testing

            Use of alcohol and drugs is one problem facing many public offices in America and many countries throughout the world. Random drug testing to public safety employees has been one of the issues that have brought a major controversy in many cities over the years. In the case of Boston’s mayor, Thomas M. Menino and Hub firefighters, there seems to be a disagreement on the validity of the random drugs and alcohol-testing bill. According to the firefighters, the mayor is pursuing the legislation for his own political gain, i.e. to win the mayoral election for his fifth time (Fairbanks, Mooney-Melvin, Miller, 2001). Menino insists that the safety of the firefighting employees is at stake and since the garbage truck conductors, school buses drivers are taking these tests, public safety employees should also be tested to create an equal playing field. The firefighters hence are demanding a monetary compensation if they were to undertake the alcohol and drug testing policy. In this essay, I will discuss some of the ways I would solve this conflict if given the responsibility of Chief of firefighting Department.

First, I totally agree that public safety employees undergoing a mandatory alcohol drug testing is a good move. I also support that this goal can only be achieved through a statewide legislation. But in order to have this legislation enforced there has to be bargaining between public safety employees and the state.  This conflict cannot be solved unless the two parties meet and collectively agree on the solution. My initial step would be to arrange a meeting with the firefighting employees. In this meeting I would invite the Health and Human Services Department .The main aim of this meeting would be to give the health groups a chance to advice my colleagues on the effects of continual use of drugs and alcohol. In this case, I would want the firefighters to be enlightened on the dangers of taking alcohol and using drugs when they have a difficult job of ensuring public safety. I would specifically tell them to learn from their two colleagues who died in West Roxbury restaurant fire because of taking alcohol and drugs. Having agreed on one common thing that alcohol and drugs could cause bodily harm and even death to the firefighters, I would then discuss how we would solve the other issues of monetary compensation. I would ask for everyone’s views on what would be the proper solution. The firefighters insisted that if the legislation was to be passed, their wages and benefits should be increased. They also suggested that these monetary needs should be bargained during the contract negotiations. They were furious that their contracts had not been renewed since July 2006. In response to this problem, I would invite the Employees rights activists to explain to the firefighters what their rights are and the best way to pursue them. It would be noble to find out if it was lawful to terminate their contracts or whether the Government would be willing to add the additional expenses to their budget. After the meetings with firefighters and the groups and after making sure that every firefighter question have been addressed, I would arrange a meeting with the Mayor and his city officials.

I would arrange a meeting between the Mayor, the city officials and the firefighter’s union. The Mayor’s major role is to negotiate contracts for the entire city on behalf of the taxpayers. It would therefore be unfair to add this legislation and fail to give the municipal employees fair contracts. Each party should present their own views on the issue, which should be subject to scrutiny and debate. The Mayor should therefore explain how the firefighters would benefit by embracing the new legislation. He should protect firefighter’s interests and should ensure these employees get adequate compensation for the good work they do. In this meeting, my main goal would be to solve this conflict at the local level. I would tell his office what the employees have agreed on and the suggested solution the firefighters have come up with to solve this conflict. In return, I would listen to his arguments and gauge whether his arguments serve the interests of Municipal employees or his political gains. The main reason why people questioned the Mayor’s integrity in regard to the legislation was because; his office had already spent over 16 years and never came up with suggestions on how to implement this law. People believe that for him to win another term he had to come up with this crucial bill which would ensure public safety and wins public trust. His opponent, Mr. Flaherty supports this bill but suggests that it has to apply to all city workers. I would also encourage the mayor to take Flaherty approach to the bill and introduce it to all city workers to ensure equality and fairness. If we fail to reach an agreement with the Mayor, I would obtain help from a law office and a labor office to intervene on our behalf. I would involve a lawyer to give us legal advice on the necessary steps to make, whether the employees should hold a peaceful demonstration based on its legality.

In conclusion, it would have been a good idea if Mayor Thomas solved the matter locally with the firefighters. He should have first called a meeting and told them of his plans before taking it to the parliament. Alcohol and drug testing is a positive move to the employees and to the public at large. It ensures the safety of the employees and also maintains fast and productive work in the firefighting department. In spite of all its advantages, it would be wrong to pass such a legislature out of selfish reasons. The Mayor seems to target only a small proportion of the Municipal employees. I would highly encourage my fellow employees to support this bill but on conditions that their interests are taken care of. The Mayor should ensure that his bill encourages equality by making sure that it is not only the public safety employees follow the law but that all city workers are tested. He should also fight for increased wages and benefits for all Municipal employees. The testing for employees should be done during the first year of their contract and thereon when any employee shows signs of drug or alcohol use. The Mayor’s office should ensure that these conditions are included in the contract and the employees should sign is she agrees with the terms.


Fairbanks, R. B., Mooney-Melvin, P., & Miller, Z. L. (2001). Making sense of the city: local government, civic culture, and community life in urban America. Kent, OH: Ohio State University Press

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