Employment Testing for PA Prison Guards

After a measure was recently passed requiring guards at a Pennsylvania prison to undergo employment testing, specifically random drug testing, many local workers are wondering if all county employees will soon be subjected to the same rules.

Officials recently announced that guards working at Westmoreland County Prison will soon face random drug testing. The guards themselves – who are members of Local 522 of the United Mine Workers of America – voted to approve a five-year contract that includes random drug testing by an outside agency at least four times per year.

Under the contract, the county will have the authority to conduct a random drug test on a guard if there is reasonable suspicion of drug use. If an employee is found to be using drugs, officials have vowed to assist them in getting help.

In addition, any guard who tests positive for drug use has the right to appeal and undergo a more detailed analysis, including a hair follicle test.

Other prison staff members, such as counselors and maintenance workers, will not have to undergo employment testing. According to an article by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the contract in turn provides a 60 cent raise per hour during the first two years, a 50 cent raise during the third year and a 40 cent raise during the last two years.

The contract still has to be approved by county commissioners. Westmoreland County already conducts pre employment tests for drug use on newly hired employees, those who have a commercial driver’s license and those who work in the department of public works.

Officials have reported that they will try to implement a random drug testing policy throughout the county, which also has union contracts with the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters and several independent unions that represent court employees and county detectives.

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