Amtrak agrees to reinstate 73 fired for drug, alcohol abuse

December 11, 1992|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Staff Writer

Seventy-three Amtrak maintenance workers, fired for dru and alcohol violations since 1987, are eligible to get their jobs back under an agreement reached recently between the railroad and the union representing them.

A federal arbitrator ruled earlier this year that Amtrak had failed to properly document test results in several dismissal cases and ordered the company to reinstate those workers.

"There wasn't substantial evidence to keep them fired," said Jed Dodd, chairman of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees in Philadelphia, which filed the appeal. The union represents some 2,000 Amtrak workers who do construction work on the tracks and bridges, but are not involved in the operation of trains.

To avoid further arbitration, Amtrak agreed to reinstate 73 workers, according to Sue Martin, a spokeswoman for Amtrak in Washington. Mr. Dodd said the agreement was reached about two weeks ago.

Upon returning to work, however, they must pass a physical exam that includes drug and alcohol testing, and they must submit to random testing at least four times during the next two years.

"These employees who return to work will be clean in terms of drug and alcohol tests and there will be follow-up tests to insure they remain clean," Ms. Martin said.

Letters went out recently to the 73 workers, giving them 30 days to notify Amtrak if they wished to return. Under the terms of the agreement, none were offered back pay.

Mr. Dodd said he expected about half of the eligible workers would ask to be reinstated. Most live between Washington and New York, he said, but he did not know how many were in the Baltimore area.

Ms. Martin said she did not know how many other Amtrak workers had been dismissed for drug and alcohol violations.

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