The union representing coal mine workers in the Elk Valley is celebrating an arbitration victory but its fight may not be over yet.
A third party has ruled Teck can no longer conduct random drug and alcohol tests on employees at its Fording River and Elkview operations.
The United Steelworkers is pleased with the ruling and spokesperson Dean Lott says the decision reinforces several findings by arbitrators in courts across Canada that random testing is an intrusion of privacy.
Teck began the tests in 2012 and the union took action to oppose the implementation.
Lott says it’s nice to see the courts uphold the rights and privacy of workers in this latest case, and suggests the decision shows the employer went too far.
Lott insists USW takes safety very seriously, and union heads and members are involved in ensuring employees are protected on a daily basis.
He argues the Elk Valley operations had a great safety record before Teck began the testing and aside from some recent events, the job sites remain a safe place to work.
The union is now looking at all the individual grievances filed by workers that were sitting in limbo as they awaited the decision.
Lott explains they will dig through all the paperwork to see what cases may be worth pursuing damages from the employer.
He would not comment on how he thought the arbitrator’s decision would affect the relationship between the workers and the employer.
– United Steelworkers Staff Representative Dean Lott