Job scarcity for blue collar workers in America was a leading point in the 2016 presidential election. With President Trump doing everything in his power to keep companies from moving their operations overseas, one factory owner says the problem isn’t enough jobs. Instead, she has a problem finding applicants.
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Regina Mitchell, a co-owner of Warren Fabricating & Machining in Hubbard, Ohio, says she has a plethora of jobs for blue collar workers in her plant but has trouble finding applicants because they fail the drug test. Mitchell told the The New York Times that four of every 10 applicants fail the required drug test, making them ineligible to work there.
She explained that the workers don’t need a higher education or even to have skills from a trade school; they just need a high school diploma and a willingness to work drug-free.
“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,” Mitchell said. She pays her employees anywhere from $15 to $25 an hour.
“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.”
When speaking to CNN, Mitchell explained that she never had a drug issue with applicants until recently. “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.”
Mitchell is correct in her assessment of drugs becoming more prevalent in Ohio more recently. In a census taken in 2014, it was discovered that Ohio had the second largest opioid-related deaths in the United States and that number doesn’t seem to be going down any time soon.
In a federal study conducted on prescription opioid abuse, it was discovered that the economy suffered a $78.5 billion loss directly resulting from a lack of drug-free applicants who were able to work. This further substantiates the claims from the 2014 census in Ohio.
Mahoning County, the county where Mitchell’s factory resides, has an estimated 120,000 open labor jobs. The community and its surrounding areas just can’t seem to kick their drug habits.