Monday, July 31, 2017

Last Call For The Opioid Crisis Is The Jobs Crisis

The problem we hear from Trump voters in Ohio is that there are no jobs under Obama and the Democrats, so they rolled the dice on Trump and the GOP.  The reality is a lot more complicated of course.  The jobs are there, but qualified workers aren't, and the biggest culprit is not lack of training or immigrant labor or even the death of unions, but the opioid crisis.

Ohio's blue collar workers can't pass drug tests.

An Ohio factory owner said Saturday that though she has blue-collar jobs available at her company, she struggles to fill positions because so many candidates fail drug tests.
Regina Mitchell, a co-owner of Warren Fabricating & Machining in Hubbard, Ohio, told The New York Times this week that four out of 10 applicants otherwise qualified to be welders, machinists and crane operators will fail a routine drug test. 
In an interview Saturday with CNN's Michael Smerconish, Mitchell said that her requirements for prospective workers were simple.

"I need employees who are engaged in their work while here, of sound mind and doing the best possible job that they can, keeping their fellow co-workers safe at all times," she said. 
"We have a 150-ton crane in our machine shop. And we're moving 300,000 pounds of steel around in that building on a regular basis. So I cannot take the chance to have anyone impaired running that crane, or working 40 feet in the air." 
President Donald Trump addressed his blue-collar base in Ohio this week, returning to his campaign theme of getting local communities back to work and returning jobs to America from overseas. 
But Mitchell said she has jobs. She just doesn't have sober applicants. 
For 48 of the 50 years her company has been around, drug abuse had never been an issue, she told Smerconish. 
"It hasn't been until the last two years that we needed to have a policy, a corporate policy in place, that protects us from employees coming into work impaired," she said. 
Opioid use is on the rise across the country, but especially in Ohio. In 2014, the state had the second-largest number of opioid-related deaths in the United States and the fifth-highest rate of overdose. 
"This opioid epidemic that we're experiencing ... it seems like it's worse than in other places all over the country," Mitchell said.

Now keep in mind Ohio Republicans happily put major cuts to Medicaid and drug treatment programs in Ohio's state budget.  They were line-item vetoed by GOP Gov. John Kasich, but the bigger point is that if you want to see the real reason why Obamacare has grown begrudgingly popular out here in the Midwest, it's because for a lot of families the ACA and the treatment options it provides are the only thing standing between them and disaster when it comes to the opioid crisis here.

It's not just "an inner city" problem, either.  And people here damn well know it.

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