Case Report – Arbitrator allows challenge to random alcohol testing

On November 16, 2009, Arbitrator Veniot allowed a grievance that challenged the use of random alcohol testing for safety sensitive positions at a New Brunswick pulp mill. He found neither the Ontario Court of Appeal’s blessing of random alcohol testing in Entrop nor Arbitrator Picher’s broad denouncement of random alcohol testing in his 2006 Imperial Oil decision to be governing. Rather, he stressed that each case must be decided in its context, with Picher’s “Canadian Model” operating except where the evidence indicates otherwise.

On the facts, Arbitrator Veniot held the employer had only proven gains likely to “run from uncertain to exist at all to minimal at best.” He therefore upheld the grievance, declared the random testing provision of the employer’s drug and alcohol policy to be unreasonable and ordered it to be set aside.

Re Irving Pulp and Paper, Ltd. and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Local 30 (Day), [2009] N.B.L.A.A. No. 28 (QL) (Veniot).

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