Gloversville plow driver fired over alcohol test reinstated

The city plow driver fired after failing a Feb. 25 alcohol field test administered by city police


The city plow driver fired after failing a Feb. 25 alcohol field test administered by city police was reinstated April 15 with most of his back pay and all his benefits.

An April 14 agreement signed by Mayor Dayton King and 19-year Department of Public Works veteran Rexland Perkins was obtained by the Daily Gazette.

In the agreement, which settles a grievance Perkins filed after his dismissal, Perkins acknowledges driving a plow while having a blood alcohol content greater than .04 percent — a standard defined in federal transportation law governing commercial driver’s licenses.

City officials said in early March that the field sobriety testing measured Perkins’ level at .10. But, they said, the test was administered sometime after the plow was parked and, as a result, he was not subjected to a breath test on the more sophisticated machine at the police station and was not arrested.

In the agreement, Perkins consented to an alcohol evaluation and is bound to participate in treatment if that is the finding as well as accept follow up testing.

The back pay provision in the agreement excludes a 12-day unpaid suspension. The agreement states the “12-workday unpaid suspension is a reasonable punishment for Mr. Perkins’ violation of the city’s drug and alcohol policy.”

Mayor King declined Tuesday to comment on Perkins situation, calling it a personnel matter, but he said employees are entitled to due process under federal law and under terms of the city’s alcohol and substance abuse policy.

City labor attorney Bryan J. Goldberger acknowledged the existence of the agreement with Perkins. “All parties have reached an agreement to resolve the matter and we think the terms safeguard the public and follow applicable law,” he said.

Stephen Kemmer, president of the Civil Service Employees Association unit representing DPW workers, said the matter should have been kept private.

But, Kemmer said, Perkins was denied his due process rights and was fired before any determination of guilt or innocence.

Procedures laid out in the law and the contract were not followed, Kemmer said.

He said it should be noted that Perkins was on vacation that week when he voluntarily reported for an unforecast snowstorm “because he knew we were short-handed.”

Kemmer said the federal law giving CDL drivers due process and an opportunity for treatment raises the issue of protecting drivers from erroneous drug and alcohol testing.

Perkins could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

City officials noted Tuesday that if Perkins were to fail a second alcohol test while working he could be fired without rec

Categories: Schenectady County

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