Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Drug Tests Talk of Town in Valdosta Southern Bag Wants Plant Back to Business as Usual

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Drug Tests Talk of Town in Valdosta Southern Bag Wants Plant Back to Business as Usual

Article excerpt

VALDOSTA -- Southern Bag Corp. says it's back to business as

usual almost a week after company employees were forced to take

urinalysis tests as county agents raided their workplace.

But if workers were going about their old routines at the plant

just west of downtown Valdosta as the week ended, it didn't mean

the controversial incident was forgotten.

Some employees expressed support for the company's decision to

root out what it said was a dangerous drug problem at the plant,

which uses heavy machinery to produce fertilizer and dog food

bags.

Others said springing a surprise drug test on its workers as

Lowndes County drug task force agents roamed the facility with

their dogs was too harsh, an assessment echoed by one business

professor.

"It sounds like something from the last century or certainly

the early part of this century," said Walter R. Nord, a

University of South Florida professor who studies corporations.

"I doubt if it's taught in the Harvard Business School today."

The company asked the drug task force to inspect the plant

Monday, and workers were told to take urinalysis tests or lose

their jobs.

Employees said they were kept in a room for about three hours.

They reported that telephones were disconnected and that they

were sent to a restroom to give urine samples.

The workers said they were told not to tell anyone about the

tests or searches. Some recalled being herded about the plant

like animals and called the experience humiliating.

No arrests were made, and no drugs were found at the plant, but

more than 10 percent of Southern Bag Corp.'s 150 Valdosta

employees tested positive for illegal drugs.

The company had planned to fire workers testing positive for

illicit narcotics by Friday, but it wasn't known if anyone had

been fired. A top company official reached at Southern Bag's

Mississippi offices by telephone refused to answer questions and

abruptly hung up.

No one was giving his name.

One man standing at a fence surrounding part of the plant said

some fellow workers thought the company could have treated its

employees with more dignity. …

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