YONKERS, NY — Yonkers City Council Minority Leader John Murtagh (R) today announced he will be introducing public safety legislation before the Yonkers City Council that would require random drug testing of Yonkers officials, including the mayor, deputy mayor, members of the Yonkers City Council, Yonkers Board of Education volunteers and employees, police officers, firefighters, and all those operating city machinery or vehicles. The bill is to be proposed as "The Government Safety Act."
Minority Leader Murtagh, calling the legislation long overdue, has often had to vote on financial settlements in accident cases involving city vehicles. He cited random drug testing among federal employees as a model for his bill. "If a Yonkers employee is driving a public vehicle or performing in a 'high risk' job, the public reasonably deserves to know that the city is doing what it can to ensure that drugs and alcohol are not an issue," Mr. Murtagh said. "
Yonkers has an excessively large fleet of 'take-home' cars, and the city has a responsibility to make sure their drivers are sober and safe. Let's not wait for some tragic accident to pass this bill; let's do the smart thing and pass it before a tragedy occurs." Mr Murtagh has helped lead the successful fight for term limits in Yonkers, the author of the new Ethics Code for the City of Yonkers and the Board of Education, and he successfully amended the Rules and Procedures of the City Council to increase public participation.
Council Member Murtagh's Resolution is as follows:
By Councilmember Murtagh
To protect employees of the City of Yonkers and members of the general public in cases where inattention to duty or errors in judgment by City employees while on duty will have the potential for significant risk of harm to the employee, other employees, or the general public.
I. – Definitions.
As used in this chapter:
A. "Employees subject to random drug testing" means any employees of the city, including employees of the Board of Education, whether paid or volunteer, and including the Mayor and Members of the City Council working in a "High Risk" job as hereinafter defined.
B. "Established drug test" means the collection and testing of bodily fluids administered in a manner equivalent to that required by the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs (HHS Regulations 53 Fed. Reg. 11979, et seq.), as amended, or any other professionally valid procedures approved by the Laws of the State of New York.
C. "High-risk job" means those duties where inattention to duty or errors in judgment while on duty will have the potential for significant risk of harm to the employee, other employees, or the general public. For purposes of this chapter, the following positions shall be considered "high-risk jobs," and employees holding such positions shall be subject to random drug testing hereunder:
1. Drivers or operators of any city vehicle, including automobiles, trucks, tractors, motor graders, backhoes, street-sweepers, forklifts, or any other vehicle used for transportation, construction or maintenance work;
2. Police Officers;
4. Mechanics responsible for the maintenance or upkeep of safety devices on city vehicles and/or equipment;
5.bPublic safety dispatchers;
6. Operators of power equipment;
7. Sanitation truck operators (including employees responsible for operating mechanized equipment thereon);
1. "Illegal drug" shall have the meaning set forth in Section 12-102 of the New York State General Obligations Law.
2. The term "illegal drug" shall not include any drug when used pursuant to a valid medical prescription or when used as otherwise authorized by state or federal law.
II.- Employees subject to random drug testing.
A. Any and all employees with the definitions set forth in subsections I [C]-1 through 7 above shall be subject to random drug testing for evidence of use of illegal drugs.
B. The Commissioner of Human Resources shall designate those employees who regularly perform high-risk work, as defined herein. This chapter shall not be construed to include employees who do not regularly perform high-risk work regardless of the fact that other employees in the same classification do perform such high-risk work.
III- Duties of the Commissioner of Human Resources.
A. The Commissioner of Human Resources shall be responsible for:
1. Assuring that employees are selected for testing on a random basis;
2. Assuring that privacy intrusions are minimized during collection of body fluid specimens;
3. Assuring that all body fluid specimens are stored and transported to testinglaboratories at proper temperatures and under such conditions that the quality of the specimens shall not be jeopardized;
4. Assuring that the identity of employees whose tests show the usage of an illegal drug is limited to the staff who are entitled to this information; and
5. Restricting access to drug test records and results only to those persons entitled to the information. The city manager shall also adopt such other rules as he or she deems appropriate to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
B. The Commissioner of Human Resources shall establish and maintain a list of those laboratories qualified to conduct established drug tests and shall determine which illegal drugs will be the subject of testing; provided, however, that no laboratory shall be so certified unless that laboratory, on a daily basis, adds to its urinetesting program a minimum of ten percent (10%) blind test specimens.
IV.-Penalties for use of illegal drugs or refusal to submit to a drug test.
A. Any employee subject to random drug testing by virtue of this chapter and who produces a positive drug test result revealing the presence of illegal drugs or controlled substances shall be terminated. However, the employee shall have ten (10) days from the date of termination to appeal said termination to the Commissioner of Human Resources in writing. During said ten (10) days, the employee may rebut the test by producing a negative drug test (of the same kind and from the same testing facility), explain the mitigating circumstances, or offer any other explanation to the Commissioner of Human Resources. Upon receiving the appeal, if the circumstances so warrant, the Commissioner of Human Resources shall be empowered to either lessen the disciplinary action to suspension without pay, reinstate the employee, or affirm the termination, as the Commissioner of Human Resources sees fit in his or her sole discretion. Notwithstanding any other provision in this Code or the personnel policies of the city, the decision on appeal of the Commissioner of Human Resources shall be final and the employee shall have no further appeal rights.
In the case of elected officials whom produce a positive drug test, such official shall be subject to censure, to referral to the City of Yonkers Board of Ethics and to such other and further official actions as local, State of Federal law shall permit.
B. Any employee who refuses to provide body fluid or otherwise submit to a drug test when requested to do so in accordance with the random drug testing conducted pursuant to this chapter shall be warned orally that such refusal will result in termination from employment. If the employee thereafter continues to refuse to submit to the drug test, the employee shall be terminated from his or her employment.