Recently laid-off employees in Wisconsin won’t be able to get unemployment benefits or food stamps if they’d previously failed a drug test with their employer or declined to take a drug test.
That’s the result of a new law approved in early May by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has been pushing for drug tests on all unemployment and social welfare applicants.
Walker is still advocating for a more comprehensive drug testing program, but that program is on hold because it requires federal approval, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The governor has said drug testing is crucial to reducing dependence on the government.
“Employers across the state frequently tell me they have good-paying jobs available in high-demand fields, but need their workers to be drug-free,” Walker said in a statement in November 2015. “These important entitlement reforms will help more people find family-supporting jobs, moving them from government dependence to true independence.”
Not everyone is on board with the new drug test policy.
With his broad statements and insistence that employers can’t find drug-free workers, Walker is demonizing an entire class of people, Sherrie Tussler of the Milwaukee Hunger Task Force told Wisconsin Public Radio.
“You can’t take broad classes of people and call them drug users and then demand that, in order to receive equal treatment under the law, that they subject themselves to a drug test,” Tussler said. “Just because people are on food stamps doesn’t mean that they’re addicted to drugs.”
Tussler said she believes Walker’s new policies are unconstitutional, a view shared by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, a Democrat. Parisi heads Wisconsin’s second-largest county government.
“People who fall on hard times should not be treated like criminals; they should be treated like people who have fallen on hard times: with dignity and respect,” Parisi said in a statement, according to the Journal-Sentinel. “Requiring someone who has just been laid off from their job to pee in a cup is not treating people in a dignified manner; it is degrading and insulting.”
Sources: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (2), Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Public Radio / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr