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Equal Opportunity

Challenging Unfair Pre-Employment Testing


Laborers local 563 is currently pursuing a grievance against a contractor for using a physical machine test to screen members that we referred for work. We are concerned that this type of test has nothing to do with the ability to do the work and may unfairly exclude members who have disabilities or past work injuries, women members, and older members.


The contractor, Ramsey Excavating Company, adopted the test unilaterally without bargaining with the Union about it. We will continue the legal fight against this type of testing if and when any of our other contractors use it.


The pre-employment test used by Ramsey measures the strength of an isolated muscle group—such as one arm or one leg—at a constant rate of speed, and within a specific range of motion. The test does not, however, emulate body mechanics, experience-based judgment, or technique used to perform essential job functions. In other words, the test does not measure whether a member has what it takes to perform the practical skills of the job.


As soon as we found out about this test, the Union filed a grievance and unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of all affected members. We have aggressively pursued the grievance and held a two-day arbitration hearing on it in May 2014. We are currently awaiting the Arbitrator’s decision, which should be forthcoming.


While arbitrating the grievance, we discovered that several other contractors have unilaterally imposed the same physical machine test. The Union immediately filed grievances and unfair labor practice charges against those additional contractors. In response, each of the contractors agreed to stop using the physical machine test and not to use it ever again unless a court rules that the test is not discriminatory. In total, seven contractors have signed such an agreement.


With support from Local 563, one of our members— a woman over the age of 40 who was unfairly denied work—is also pursuing discrimination charges on behalf of all affected workers regarding the use of the physical machine test. The federal government is currently investigating those class-wide discrimination charges, which have been filed against Ramsey, the testing company (Cost Reduction Technologies, LLC), and the test administrator (Minnesota Occupational Health).


The Union will continue to stand strong against the use of the physical machine tests in our bargaining units. If a signatory contractor makes or attempts to make you or someone you know submit to a physical machine test, contact the Union hall immediately at 612-781-6933.