PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Corbett says his comments about job applicants failing drug tests were taken out of context by his political opponents.
He never meant them as an excuse for high unemployment.
“It had nothing to do with unemployment,” Corbett told KDKA political editor Jon Delano. “They made a connection that was not there.”
Here is the governor’s original comment on a radio talk show on April 30: “There are many employers that say they are looking for people, but we cannot find anybody who has passed a drug test, a lot of them, and that’s a concern to me.”
Corbett says his preceding remarks on radio show that his comments were limited to jobs in the Marcellus shale industry.
“I was talking about the industry, the shale industry, and finding people for training and people who would pass drug tests.”
But on Friday morning Corbett acknowledged that drug use is a problem that affects many companies.
“It’s a huge issue for us and we should be concerned about that. If you talk to members of the chamber of commerce and other businesses, I think they’re telling you the same thing, if you’ve gone out there. They need to find people who have passed drug tests.”
Lots of employees resist the idea — even when required.
“I just think it’s an invasion of privacy and no, I did not like it,” said Paulette Battisti of Ambridge.
While many find drug tests to be deeply offensive and a violation of privacy rights, others say that in the 21st century there are jobs that really require employees to be drug-free.
“There are a lot of important jobs out there, and without drug testing you could get the wrong person in there, and it’s a recipe for disaster,” noted Ronald Newman of Beechview.
Corbett says being drug-free is critical given post-9/11security and the need for a safe working environment.
“If you combine the two,” says the governor, “there is a group of people out there having a hard time finding a job.”