, Derry, New Hampshire

July 25, 2013

Officials weigh in on resident petition request

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — Town councilors decided to take no action on a resident’s request for stricter drug testing for town employees.

Resident Mike Gill presented his simple petition to the town earlier this summer, asking that a policy be put in place to make sure all workers are screened prior to taking a job with the town, establishing an alcohol- and drug-free workplace for all town employees.

“To institute a random drug testing policy throughout town is not an option for us,” acting Town Administrator and Human Resources Director Larry Budreau said. “You have to have reasonable cause to do so.”

Budreau said the fire and police departments already have strict hiring practices in place when it comes to doing background checks and drug testing.

“The employment practices at (police and fire) are second to none for the state of New Hampshire,” he said.

Those two departments represent about 160 of the town’s 230 total employees.

It’s not the first time Gill has challenged the town’s drug-testing policy — or lack thereof.

Earlier this summer, during a process to approve a new three-year union contract between the town and Teamster Local No. 633, including Public Works staff, Gill asked why there was no policy was in place for all town workers.

“I was befuddled that, with all the rules and regulations in the town of Derry, there isn’t a random drug-testing policy in place,” he said.

Some Public Works staffers with commercial driving licenses fall under Department of Transportation rules when it comes to drug and alcohol testing policies.

Budreau said some full-time Public Works staff are brought on after working on a part-time basis.

“We ‘try before we buy,’” he said. “It’s hiring someone you already know.”

Gill wanted more to be done with all town employees, but Budreau said the town follows guidelines for hiring that are suitable at this time, including all the proper background checks and professional interview processes.

Any worker that fails to comply would be dealt with, Budreau said.

“We won’t tolerate any town workers under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” he said. “That would subject you to discipline.”

Councilors decided not to take any further action on Gill’s petition at this time.

“We are in good shape relative to our hiring practices,” Budreau said. “(We are) as tight as any municipality in the state.”