Oct 27, 2008

Random Drug Testing at Sandia

Hi Frank,
Here is the new drug testing notice for Sandia. I can't tell you how excited this makes me to be working at this place -- there is no number that small -- but on the plus side, it makes it really easy to not give a shit if I get fired.

I am no longer answering my phone. That will of course make this all the more interesting. I am of course continuing to accumulate job offers -- takes the edge off the threats in this message.

I guess you might as well leave my name off this for now -- my bosses get a little exercised every time I tell them I'm ready to walk.

Random Drug Testing at Sandia

If you are called - The process
  • Verbal notifications will be made to randomly selected cleared employees and contractors during duty hours. A selected person must report to a designated collection site the day they are notified.
  • The verbal notification will include directions to the nearest collection site.
  • You will receive a verbal notification while on duty via telephone. Once verbal notification is made, no excuses will be accepted for failure to report to the collection site before close of the business day. For Members of the Workforce that do not work at a Sandia location where there is a collection center, information on where to report will be given at the time of notification. These individuals who do not work at a Sandia location will have 24 hours to report to a collection facility after notification.
  • Drugs being screened include marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine, and amphetamines. Some prescription medications fall in these categories; confirmation that a person has illegally used prescription medications will result in positive test result as well.
  • Urine specimens will be sent to a Federally certified private laboratory for assay.
  • Failure to report to an approved collection center on the day of notification, or refusal to provide a specimen, will result in measures equal to those for a positive drug test.
  • If a lab result indicates the presence of drugs in a specimen, those results will be provided to the Medical Review Officer (MRO). The MRO will seek information about the results, including the use of prescription medications.
  • The MRO will determine whether a result is reported as either positive or negative.
  • The immediate consequences of an MRO-confirmed positive drug test include the worker's badge being confiscated and the person being removed from his or her TDP duties. Other disciplinary actions, following due-process procedures, may include termination.
  • A sub-contractor whose result is confirmed as positive will be removed from the performance of the Sandia contract immediately.
  • Per 10 CFR 707 Section 707.14 Action pursuant to a determination of illegal drug use. An individual who has been notified of a positive test result may request a retest of the same sample at the same or another certified laboratory. The individual shall bear the costs of transportation and/or testing of the specimen. Sandia Labs will inform employees of their right to request a retest under the provisions of this paragraph.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

My favorite part is this one:

"..confirmation that a person has illegally used prescription medications will result in positive test result as well."

So, let's suppose you have a five year old bottle of the common pain killer Vicodin sitting on the shelf. Better yet, suppose it's not your bottle but your wife's bottle. It's Sunday afternoon and you have a terrible toothache so you pop a pill to kill the pain knowing that you won't be able to get in to see the dentist until Tuesday afternoon.

You arrive to work on Monday and, bingo, lucky you! You're called to immediately come in for a piss test. Game over, buddy, you've just been fired. No if's, but's, or maybe's. No do-overs and no excuses. You didn't have a valid prescription for this medicine and should have suffered in agony according to the "no excuse" testing doctrines at SNL and LANL.

In this respect, the piss test feels like a great big "F.U." coming from the folks over at NNSA. They really don't give a sh*t about the highly trained workforce at their research labs. They've created a testing regime that is so strict that it will undoubtedly cause many good people to suddenly loose their jobs. People who are not drug addicts. People who are not breaking the law.

Drug testing upon job acceptance or periodic testing for those in high risk programs like HRP are one thing, but this monstrosity which is designed for all employees at NNSA labs, no matter the position, is stupid and wrong.

It's driving away the "best and the brightest", but maybe that is the intended purpose?

Anonymous said...

No mention of any protection against false positives.

What if you are on vacation, at home while sick, on foreign travel?

So, don't answer your phone.
Caller ID will help.

Anonymous said...

Note:
"The MRO will determine whether a result is reported as either positive or negative."

This person would seem to have a lot of power. What is his/her accountability for making a mistake?

Anonymous said...

The only thing noteworthy about this post is the implication that Sandia hasn't already been doing random drug testing all this time.

Anonymous said...

So no more bagels with poppy seeds, no more cough medicine with codeine. And, no, you won't find out the false positive rate.
Btw., lists with caller ids can easily be collected and distributed. And usually the secretaries are good to notify the callers that one is unavailable by attending really important meetings.

Anonymous said...

LANL has had many drug positives in two years of testing. In general, these are iffy employees in other ways. (attendance, attitude, competence) I believe the current number dismissed is over 100.

Anonymous said...

The lack of any discussion of an appeal process and how false positives are handled is really bad. This is yet another demonstration of the insensitivity of LANS management.

I am betting that if Mikey takes a toot on a codiene-based cough medicine and tests positive, they will find a way to say that it was ok.

Anonymous said...

More from Sandia:

It's fascinating that this one lonely and nicely understated story is the only one I have seen about an accident that forced all regular and contractor employees of Sandia into mandatory safety training and shut down all energetic materials work. It did not make the OCGA Daily Clips.

Wonder what would have happened if the accident was at Los Alamos?


Worker injured at Sandia Labs
AP (KOB-TV) 10/09/2008 10:43:41 PM

By: The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A contract worker sustained a broken leg and burns Thursday after a rocket motor ignited prematurely during a sled track test in a remote area at Sandia National Laboratories.

The worker, a contractor for Transportation Management Services Solutions, was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital.

The worker's condition wasn't immediately known. Two other persons, both Sandia employees, were taken by ambulance to University Hospital for evaluation after they complained of ringing in the ears and impaired hearing.

Investigators were trying to determine what caused the accident, which occurred during a regularly scheduled test on the 2-mile sled track. Sandia Labs is a federal research laboratory.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Anonymous said...

Worker injured at Sandia Labs
AP (KOB-TV) 10/09/2008

That ugly rocket burn accident would be good for at least a month of a stop-all-work type shutdown at LANL.

Anonymous said...

Why would any great scientists want to come work for LANL or SNL and then be subjected to constant and very strict drug testing like this policy lays out? They wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Correct 12:46 am. According to recent DOE rules and I think NM state law, its illegal to take another person's prescription narcotic medication.

Anonymous said...

11:37AM: Why not? I never understood why being a competent scientist has anything to do with whether or not you should be expected to occasionally pee in a cup.

Anonymous said...

Get off the pedestal that you have placed for yourselves "Scientists!" You're not better than anyone else!

Anonymous said...

This conversation is fascinating. Does anybody ever examine the assumptions that LANL retains "highly competent" staff or the "best and brightest" or "great scientists"? Bell Laboratory, you may know, was a place that Nobel Prizes were won and valuable patents written. It was shut down a few years ago because it didn't, by some criterion, pay for itself.
LANL, in the non-weapons programs for sure, has been unproductive, compared to almost every other laboratory, by any measure that normalizes for number of scientists or budget size.
I think that the time has come to realize that you are living at the end of "scientific pork barrel" and act and speak accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Given the state of the restrooms, I would be glad to use a nice clean cup instead.

Could I schedule the "golden retriever" twice daily, every day? And could they please stock it with the newspaper?

Anonymous said...

2:45 PM: Why should anybody be expected to occasionally pee in a cup?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at10/28/08 3:39 PM said...

"Get off the pedestal that you have placed for yourselves "Scientists!" You're not better than anyone else!"

That is not the ponit. First, the entirity of the information from SNL and LANL is oppressive. There is no mention of an appeal process or of how false positives will be handled.

The laboratories do require very good technical staff to do their work. When you go to work in classified programs, your resume becomes a blank for that time period. So, job security becomes abnormally important. To be under the threat of inadverent termination due to some idiot's mistake on a piss test is not an acceptable condition of employment for people who have other options.

Until 10 years ago, I was a recruiter at SNL and I can tell you that I would not have wanted to explain this policy to a potential job applicant.

Anonymous said...

"Get off the pedestal that you have placed for yourselves "Scientists!" You're not better than anyone else!"

What makes you think the original poster is a scientist?

Anonymous said...

"The laboratories do require very good technical staff to do their work."

Your view is not shared by management.

Please provide some evidence to back up this assertion.

Anonymous said...

10/28/08 12:46 AM - of for f*cks sake. how stupid are you? if you were - hypothetically, of course - in so much pain on Sunday that you needed a vicodin from your wife's Rx, why on God's earth would you go to work on Monday? if you are soo miserable I would think you would be smart enough to stay home until you saw the dentist. geessh, at least give a credible " I am not stupid " story.

Anonymous said...

OK, I hate to bring this up ... well, I don't ... but where in the hell was all this sympathy and remorse when LANS announce this for LANL some time ago? uhhh, I believe people said "suck it up" and "welcome to the real corporate world you whiney scientists". Correct? I am surprised and shocked that LM has just started this at Sandia. GO FIgure. I guess LANL still is the flagship national laboratory and all others follow ...

Anonymous said...

LANL's drug program is excellent. I hope Sandia does just as well. My group has had two employees fired due to drug use and the process went very smooth. Why would anyone want a druggie working next to them all day?

Anonymous said...

"LANL's drug program is excellent. I hope Sandia does just as well. My group has had two employees fired due to drug use and the process went very smooth. Why would anyone want a druggie working next to them all day?

10/28/08 8:10 PM"

And why would anyone want a drunk working next to them? Oh sorry that might mean that 8:10pm would get fired. The drunks are far worse than the people who smoke a joint once a month, everyone at LANL knows this. Who do you think is a worse risk?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe we are rehashing the same old whines here.

If there are so many false positives resulting in innocent people being fired, then please, someone produce the name of *one* LANL employee this has happened to. I'd think their story would be absolutely legendary on this blog by now.

As for the guy who's worried about his codeine-based cough syrup, unless you do your drugstore shopping online or south of the border, you will have a valid prescription to show Occ Med. It's not like you're going to "accidentally" buy this stuff OTC at Smith's.

Vicodin boy: just keep your hands off your wife's meds. Especially the 5 year old stuff. Yuck!

And finally... Duh! If you are not at work on the day you are called (including sick, vacation, and travel) you will, of course, have already reported your absence from work and your boss will be able to vouch for your inability to report for the test.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought to ponder. You can look up the LANS vs contractor rates for positive random drug tests in the monthly Briefing Book updates. (They just advertised this on LINKS again). KSL has been running a 1% failure rate since the program began. These are the guys running the 480V electrical circuits into your lab spaces. You know, the ones who chronically f*ck up their LO/TO operations. Remember when a subcontractor was caught with his stash of pot onsite at LANSCE? Not like we have any intense energy sources at that facility!

How comfortable are you feeling now?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10/28/08 7:11 PM said...

"The laboratories do require very good technical staff to do their work."

"Your view is not shared by management."

This poster is absolutely correct. LANS management has great disdain for the technical staff.

Anonymous said...

Re: drug and alcohol testing

We have seen the increasing criminalization of non-criminal behaviors in the DOE workplace. A notable recent example is the linking of social drinking of legal alcohol with illegal drug use. The psychology community now lumps both activities as “substance abuse” and are equally bad. Note how the phrases “drugs and alcohol” and “clean and sober” are commonly run together in their conversations. In the mind of the brokeback cowboys of HSR-2, they are equal, and a finding of either will jeopardize your clearance. See for example, “Back Door to Prohibition: The New War on Social Drinking” [http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=1360]

Along the same lines, an employee has no defense against the abuse of psychological authority by the anointed gatekeepers. See, for example, “Psychoanalysis as a Weapon” by Murray N. Rothbard [http://www.mises.org/story/2330]. Once the anointed have declared you “unreliable,” you will never get another security clearance.

Wasn’t it the Nazis who coined the phrase, “An honest man has nothing to fear?”

Anonymous said...

Christ, if it bothers you so much when you get called in, just hold back a little when you pee in the cup and let loose on the wall (and don't clean it up - really stick it to The Man).

You know - there are plenty of other places with less strict rules regarding drug testing that you can go get a job at if this is so bothersome.

Anonymous said...

Look folks, you are complaining about abuses by an agency that is widely known for employee abuse. Did you not know who you were working for? Did you think you were immune? If the federal government decides to abuse you as an employee, who are you going to complain to? And guess what? Private employers are even less respecting of employee privacy. Unless the people begin to stand up for their privacy rights, things will get much worse. Beware of those who state "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about." That is the Nazi line. Those who think Obama is their Messiah, beware who you give ultimate power to. Liberals are much more likely than conservatives to try to control how people live.

Anonymous said...

Do the government workers over at LASO get subjected to random piss testing on a continual basis or is it just for all the labbies?

Anonymous said...

What LANL really needs is a well designed Stupid Jerk test, except that would end up weeding out over half of the lab by the looks of some of the posts seen here.

Anonymous said...

I know of no other scientific institution in America, government owned or otherwise, that conduct random drug testing of their whole staff on a continual basis. They might conduct drug tests upon job acceptance, but they don't continue to do frequent random testing after that point. This is the strictest drug testing policy that I've ever seen for a general work force, clearance approved or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

The LANL drug test program is rumored to be the best in DOE. Its reputation for treating employees professionally and fairly is well known around DOE. I have heard that other sites are often asking LANL how to improve their programs.

If you have to do piss testing, at least it’s good to know the process is fair and being done appropriately.

Anonymous said...

I know many functioning Alcoholic's, that work at LANL and have worked there for years. I am sure that the percentage is small, but they are out there. You know em and I know em,...

Anonymous said...

Alcoholics and weekend pot smokers are alive and well at LANL. The other drug users are being caught, I have heard a few numbers (LANS) DOE are very careful not to let these numbers out, (what would the rest of the world think if they knew the real number of affected workers working with Nuclear Weapons at LANL?)

We are not talking about the "nut" who takes his wifes pain meds, then takes a drug test...this guy is just stupid, for a number of reasons, I talking about employee's who use Alcohol, and pot.

Anonymous said...

What's the problem? Drug use is illegal. If you have a clearance and are using then you need to be found out and let go. If you don't like pissin' in a cup then go work someplace else. We don't want you here and you obviously don't want to work here.

Geez - rules and laws say you won't speed. If you don't obey then you get caught and pay the penalty. Rules say you won't steal. If you don't obey and get caught you pay the price. Rules you won't use drugs. If you do and get caught then you pay the price.

If you want to use - go somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get off the pedestal that you have placed for yourselves "Scientists!" You're not better than anyone else!"


Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured.

Christopher Hitchens

Anonymous said...

"The LANL drug test program is rumored to be the best in DOE."

Oh, come on! Rumored by who, LANS?
We all know how both DOE and LANS love to pat their own backs for a job "well done". This so called rumor is nothing but meaningless propaganda. Nice try, but your post is pretty transparent, 3:05 AM.

Anonymous said...

It's well known that the NNSA screwings are the best executed within the whole federal government. They use plenty of lubricant and are concerned enough about their employees to always use a condom.

Being screwed by your employer is not fun, but if it has to be done it's good to know we have the best "screw crew" around and they are getting the job done fair and appropriately at LANL.

Richard said...

You guys have nothing to worry about with the Whizzinator.;-)

http://www.whizzinator.com/

Anonymous said...

10/29/08 8:54 AM - sorry but you are an idiot - perhaps a manager? engineer? biologist? Anyhow, alcohol = not illegal. Prescription drugs to yourself - not illegal. Taking a med prescribed to another person (say like your wife's) = illegal. Taking street drugs = illegal. Taking illegal drugs gets you fired immediately, other stuff not so much.

Anonymous said...

SNL guy, you can blame Mikey here at LANL for your new ultra-strict piss testing policy. It was Mike's big idea and NNSA subsequently decided to pick it up and begin using it at all of the NNSA research labs.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Mikey got something right?!?

Anonymous said...

I enjoy watching Congress, Bodman, DAgostino, Anastasio, Miller and their like fail.

Anonymous said...

"I enjoy watching Congress, Bodman, DAgostino, Anastasio, Miller and their like fail." - 10:40 AM

Unfortunately, their failures will likely mean the loss of many jobs, both at LANL and throughout the United States. Don't enjoy watching it too much.

Anonymous said...

9:47 PM: I like your "not so much" comment. You are "right", one needs to eat 2-3 legal poppy seed bagels to test positive for a drug test.
Reference: Mythbusters, first aired 03/07/03

So what now with the legal/illegal issue. And, according to the Mythbusters crew the companies which produced the drug testing kits don't want to reveal their false positive rates either...

Anonymous said...

False positives... I'm still waiting for the name of one single solitary person who claims to have been wrongly fired from LANL due to a false positive.

Hell, I'll even settle for the name of someone who claims to know someone this happened to.

Anonymous said...

The drunks are far worse than the people who smoke a joint once a month, everyone at LANL knows this. Who do you think is a worse risk?

Tom DAgostina by far

Anonymous said...

its illegal to take another person's prescription narcotic medication.

Does this include those, "two who become as one flesh" or those who "make the two-backed beast"

Anonymous said...

How safe do you feel now?

I trust every pot user I've ever known more than any Congress member.

Anonymous said...

It's those coffee drinkers that you need to watch out for. They are the worst!

Anonymous said...

Check out P732. Even uncleared workers have to report DWI's. The lab is not screwing around with drug positives or DWI's, people are really being fired for this stuff. I think someone decided to get strict. I guess it's time to move on if you like the party life. Oh well, back to the science.

Anonymous said...

Speeding tickets and "other" legal issues remain no big deal.

Anonymous said...

Let's subject those who fail the drug test to three years in prison and the loss of their pension. That should fix things at LANL.

Anonymous said...

"Let's subject those who fail the drug test to three years in prison and the loss of their pension. That should fix things at LANL..."

Or

Change the federal law so, like California, minor drug offenses are decriminalized. With general amnesty for those who've offenses are not violent, nor harmful. Then, as with alcohol, sex and cigarettes, there is a no tolerance during work hours rule.

It has worked very well in California, especially when busybody federal headline makers exited the stage.

Anonymous said...

" Let's subject those who fail the drug test to three years in prison and the loss of their pension. That should fix things at LANL."

we'd be better off with the druggies if Tom Dago-stono left

Anonymous said...

I've been following this (and the previous blogs) since the Nanos shutdown, even after I quit LANL when the LANS idiocy came down the pipe. What I can't help but find odd is the fact that posts on drug testing seem to consistently gather rather large numbers of protesting comments. Why?

It would make sense if there was a well documented history of the "false positive issue" being a problem at the lab or elsewhere. How many false positive terminations have been documented on here at LANL? You'd think if any occurred, they would rapidly make their way on here as a condemnation of the LANL testing program. That would be prime blog fodder. But, we haven't seen any.

So, this false positive problem seems to be a false problem itself. I peed in the cup in the little blue van with the flag on the side out in the MST parking lot. It wasn't that bad - I peed, they approved, and my life at LANL continued as before. The only thing that changed was that one day I went to the bathroom in a little RV instead of my normal restroom. Given that at that point the janitorial services had already begun their cuts, leading to less frequent bathroom attention in my building, the clean RV was a somewhat pleasant change (aside from the cup - it's not quite as satisfying as a plain old urinal).

What's the big deal folks? Drug testing happens all over the place, especially in jobs where it is important to have some assurance of the stability of the workforce. It happens at weapons labs, it happens in technology companies - hell, I even heard of a case where a company tested their truckers on a semi-regular basis. Since when does a PhD exempt you from this? I have a PhD, and other than the initial odd feeling of having to go piss in a van, it didn't bother me that much. I never thought that my academic status had any relation to whether or not my employer had a right to see if I dabbled in narcotics.

Get over it folks. Get a new job if it bothers you that much. Why, of all of the actual issues out there, is drug testing one of the few that actually stirs up strong opinions with people?

Anonymous said...

"Why, of all of the actual issues out there, is drug testing one of the few that actually stirs up strong opinions with people?"

It's a matter of principle. Honest people who follow the law are offended at a personal level by being subjected to drug testing and polygraph testing. People who work hard for a company do not appreciate the level of distrust from management that such activities imply. If I'm going to slave away so managers can get huge bonuses, I expect some respect and dignity in return. Sadly, this model has been destroyed in current corporate America.

Anonymous said...

You're right 3:30 am!! I don't think drug testing is right. I'm going to get a new job. I heard they are hiring at Wal-Mart in Espanola.


Wait a minute. I just found out they drug test too. Oh well, I'll guess I better stay at LANL and take my chances. At least I'll have a small benefits package such as 4 weeks vacation, 2 weeks sick leave, 401k plan with 9% matching, pension, health benefits, continuing ed, 9/80 work hours, 12 vacation days off + Christmas grant, and a great salary for the area.

Oh my, I just don't know how I will manage putting up with the possibility of getting drug tested.

Anonymous said...

Like all the other spoils at Los Alamos, workers are lucky to have a well structured drug program. The last place I worked at had a person do the drug test that looked like they were stoned. Does this blog ever compliment anything??? Wake up LANL, you have the best of everything and you still complain. I too went to pee in a van except mine was green. Talk about being equipped. What do you want to complain about now? Were the magazines old, the water too warm, the humidity to high in the van??? Get life, your rights are not being affected.

Anonymous said...

You know what... I dislike going for my drug and alcohol testing (HRP) as much as the next guy. But those who point out the professionalism of the drug testing staff are right on target. I've never felt like my dignity or privacy was at stake. My questions have always been answered, and the technician was patient with me when I had an episode of "shy bladder" (actually just really bad timing). I almost spilled my full cup on the guy one time, and he just laughed it off and said he'd been through much worse. The schedulers have also been polite and done their level best to accomodate my concerns. If you want to object to drug testing on principle, that's your right, but I can think of many, many ways it could be worse than what we experience at LANL.

(And actually, 7:15, the water was a little too cold. Kind of gave me an ice-cream headache).

Anonymous said...

"... benefits package such as 4 weeks vacation, 2 weeks sick leave, 401k plan with 9% matching, pension, health benefits, continuing ed, 9/80 work hours, 12 vacation days off + Christmas grant..."

Ah,.... what's this "Christmas grant" !? Are you guys on the Domenici Baksheesh program?

Grantless and curious in Livermore

Anonymous said...

Why, of all of the actual issues out there, is drug testing one of the few that actually stirs up strong opinions with people?

In part cause we all know from personal experience the Marijuana is about as dangerous as dirt.

Anonymous said...

(And actually, 7:15, the water was a little too cold. Kind of gave me an ice-cream headache).

They make you drink it? Now I do object

Anonymous said...

So hypothetically, *if* you were to get a false positive, then you get notified and sit down with the HSR-2 designated physician and review your medications, both OTC and prescribed.

But like 3:30 am pointed out, people have been fired for testing positive but even in HRP, I haven't heard of any false positives. Well,those who do test positive try the innocence plea, but for example, its hard to come up with a good excuse for testing positive for cocaine.

Anonymous said...

6:58pm: "I was told that was flour!"

Anonymous said...

...its hard to come up with a good excuse for testing positive for cocaine.

From http://www.passyourdrugtest.com/false-positives.htm

Cocaine - Substances or Conditions which can cause false positives:
Kidney infection (kidney disease)
Liver infection (liver disease)
Diabetes
Amoxicillin, tonic water

Anonymous said...

...its hard to come up with a good excuse for testing positive for cocaine.

From http://www.passyourdrugtest.com/false-positives.htm

Cocaine - Substances or Conditions which can cause false positives:
Kidney infection (kidney disease)
Liver infection (liver disease)
Diabetes
Amoxicillin, tonic water

fair enough, then when you get called in and speak with the doctor, and you screen out for all of these conditions. SOL dude.