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Forum Post: Nicotine testing and worker subservience

Posted 6 years ago on Jan. 13, 2012, 2:52 a.m. EST by mserfas (652) from Ashland, PA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

First, I should say I've never smoked tobacco in my life and have no desire to. But what I'm reading in Pennsylvania local news still sounds like a terrible precedent to me. http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120109/NEWS/201090331 Workers are being forced to submit to a new type of "drug testing", for nicotine, which is legal in 20 states including Pennsylvania.

To me this seems like yet another escalation of employer control over employees. When workers are denied the right to earn a living by high, persistent systemic unemployment, and employment more and more requires submission to arbitrary measures - when these can include so many things like mandatory overtime or penalties for personal statements outside the workplace, or use of company phones or electronic devices for the purposes of tracking them (see http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123024596 ) - the system of wage labor truly begins to merit derogatory descriptions like "wage slavery". This testing is only another tool in this increasing encroachment against the individual, but a powerful precedent. While drug testing itself is offensive to any decent civil libertarian, nicotine testing involves the employer becoming a 24-hour nanny even where legal substances and activities are involved, abusing the medical system to make a more thorough invasion of personal privacy.

People must not accept their reduction to mere serfdom, to objects owned in every regard, night and day, under penalty of artificially and deliberately imposed poverty. But OWS remains one of very few voices left with another vision (any other vision) for how our country should be.



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[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (8719) 6 years ago

Drug testing should have never been tollerated in the first place. It is a clear violation of the right to the perception of innocent until proven gulity. Even in professions such as an airline pilot, there should at least be some evidence that substance abuse is a problem, before this right is violated. What is happening is that our expectations of human rights are being eroded one by one. When the majority of Americans were sustancial landowners there was too much independence for them to piull this stull, that's why they drove people off the farms in the seventies and eighties. There has clearly been a concerted effort (you will note I do not use the word conspiracy and am thus not a "conspiracy theorist" whatever the hell that means) . . . a concerted effort to disempower the individual through land forcloseure, attacks on labor unions and just such demeaning tactics as those cited above.

It is an attack on human dignity, because human dignity stands in the way of the goal of essential slavery. Don't buy this stuff about "conspiracy theory," all it means is connecting the dots, which is exactly what they do not want you to do.

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 6 years ago

I agree with you all the way on this one.

[-] 2 points by Courtney (111) from New York, NY 6 years ago

there should be a more coordinated Occupy-libertarian teamup on some of these issues. I just watched a discussion between some people I think are pretty far-right and Occupy people. I was surprised to hear them echoing each other on a few points, but for the most part they were still not really on the same page.

[-] 0 points by HarryPairatestes2 (380) from Barrow, AK 6 years ago

The already hired workers are not being forced to take the nicotine test. It is applicants that are being tested. The company does not want to hire smokers.

[-] 1 points by ronniepaul2012 (214) 6 years ago

Sounds discrimatory to me. Smokers are gonna need to be protected like other minorities soon. They will never be able to have a formal policy against fat people til this nation slims down! Being fat is just as unhealthy as smoking.

[-] 1 points by mserfas (652) from Ashland, PA 6 years ago

Fat people very much do feel at risk of discrimination, and this is worse than an anti-smoking policy. But the precedent of using medical tests may in the long run be more dangerous, because there are many other medical tests that could be done. This issue has been challenged in the past from other angles - there was a case from the early 1980s in which a company (I thought it might have been General Electric, but I'm not finding a reference for that now) was using drug test results to screen for pregnancy, HIV, and I think antipsychotic medication metabolites. But in such previous cases, things like this were rejected. The question is, if they start looking for nicotine, can they look for high cholesterol? Evidence of meat consumption (perhaps for ideological reasons)? This is a Pandora's box I'd hoped had been shut, and now people are poking around in it again.

[-] 0 points by HarryPairatestes2 (380) from Barrow, AK 6 years ago

Not all forms of discrimination are illegal. Smoking and being fat are not protected by federal law as a factor that can be ignored when hiring someone.

[-] 1 points by ronniepaul2012 (214) 6 years ago

How true and disturbing. But lets get our undies in a bundle over gay marriage. How many gays are in this country? Comapre that to the number of smokers, diabetics, fatties etc. Guess it's true what they say about the squeaky wheel.