Union advises GM stop drug testing to increase its workforce

Jul 8, 2021

Recently, the United Auto Workers (UAW) labour union has suggested for General Motors (GM) to stop drug testing its potential employees. These recommendations were voiced after it became clear that GM is having difficulty in increasing its workforce, and after the state of Michigan legalized recreational cannabis use.

Since 2010, GM has reduced the size of the Flint Truck Assembly workforce in Michigan to fewer than 10,000 workers. Currently, the truck plant is operational and looking to hire 450 temporary workers to fill in scheduling gaps for the 5,100 union-represented employees. However, the company has been having problems filling these posts, in response to this the UAW has suggested that General Motors stop drug testing its potential employees.

“When you have a line of people waiting for a job, then it’s OK to test [for cannabis]. But, if you don’t have enough candidates, testing for [cannabis] might turn people off from applying,”

Eric Welter, the UAW Local 598 Shop Chairman, in his interview with the Detroit Free Press.

According to Welter, younger applicants are likely to feel discouraged to apply for positions where they will likely be subjected to drug testing. Furthermore, he added that GM is “needlessly handicapping itself” by using hair-sample tests that yield positive results for cannabis consumption that has taken place several weeks prior to the testing.

In addition, smoking cannabis has become increasingly normalized across the U.S., with 16 states having completely legalized it. At the same time, other states have actively decriminalized its possession for medical purposes or reduced the severity of punishment associated with possession.

In addition, GM is also seeking several hundred temporary employees for its Fort Wayne Assembly plant in Indiana, where recreational cannabis use remains illegal. Although its representatives have mentioned that the company is considering changing its drug-testing rules, it does not view its testing regulations as the main issue. According to an article written by Matt Polsky and published in The Truth About Cars (TTAC), GM perceives its difficulties due to having trouble reaching “the right people,” and has been increasing public awareness of the positions available by “ensuring recruiters appear at employment fairs and remaining active online.”

Another article, QOTD: Should Drug Testing Be Necessary for Plant Work?, published by TTAC has requested readers’ opinions regarding the necessity of drug testing at car factories, receiving a mix of polarized opinions.

“It is a safety and quality hazard to have people on the manufacturing floor while trying to assemble something as large, heavy and complicated as a vehicle. [If you can’t be] drunk at work, you shouldn’t be high at work either,” said one reader.

“Call me crazy, but as a consumer I’d expect the people assembling my new $40,000 machine to not be high or drunk,” added another reader.

On the other hand, many readers spoke out against drug testing for plant work.

“Absolutely not. A job does not mean your employer has any right to know what you do after work. Showing up wasted is a different story, but if you are sober, on time, and fully capable of doing your job then they should butt out of [your] life. I have to laugh with this “[cannabis] is bad” sentiment. I’ll bet a lot more productivity has been lost to hungover people than those who got high the night before,” said one reader in response to question if cannabis testing is needed at car factories.