Factory Workers Press for Opioid Treatment From Employers

The Recovery VillageUncategorized

Opioid pills spilling out of an orange prescription bottle onto a black counter

In an attempt to secure better treatment for their members’ substance use disorders, the United Automobiles Workers union (UAW) is asking automotive companies to help their factory workers. Many of the union’s 400,000 members have felt the effects of addiction ⁠— either directly or through someone they know. Because of the rising problem, the UAW is negotiating with auto companies to give their workers better access to addiction treatment and recovery resources.

Factory workers and other laborers face a vicious cycle when it comes to the nationwide opioid epidemic. In 2017, 67% of all U.S. workplace incidents that resulted in time away from work involved workers in manufacturing. These jobs carry risks of physical injury to muscles, joints and bones, and many injuries are treated with opioid pain-relievers. Even if a doctor prescribes an opioid and someone takes them as directed, dependence and addiction can still occur. 

For some perspective, the average rate of substance use disorders among American workers was 9.5% in 2012. A few key industries above the national average include:

  • Construction workers, at a rate of 14.3%
  • Miners, at a rate of 11.8%
  • Utility workers, at a rate of 11.5%

Ohio Employers Struggle to Fill Jobs Due to Drug Use

Aside from substance use problems within the automotive industry, many other companies feel the indirect effects of addiction as well. In Ohio, specifically, people are struggling to find jobs due to past or current addictions. Even those who are in recovery are being overlooked. This is because employers are turning down applicants who have used substances but are who are otherwise qualified. 

To combat this, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation started a program to help employers provide better recovery resources. Their Opioid Workplace Safety Program seeks to train employers to effectively handle workers who may be struggling with substance misuse.

Working with UAW, the Ford Motor Company has created programs to educate workers about opioids, help prevent addiction and provide recovery resources when needed. Ohio and unions like the UAW are working to help workers and employers overcome the stigma attached to addiction. As a result, employers and workers may both benefit, and workers can lead healthier lives without turning to substance misuse. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with an opioid use disorder, The Recovery Village Columbus can help. Contact us today to learn about treatment plans and programs that can help you get on the right path.


Burch, Kelly. “Autoworkers Union Pushes For Better Opioid Treatment.” The Fix, July 9, 2019. Accessed October 25, 2019.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “EMPLOYER-REPORTED WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ILLNESSES – 2017.” November 8, 2018. Accessed October 25, 2019.

Bush, Donna; et al. “Substance Use and Substance Use Disorder by Industry.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, April 16, 2015. Accessed October 25, 2019.

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. “BWC pilot program addresses opioid impact on workforce.” September 10, 2018. Accessed October 25, 2019. 

Detroit Regional Chamber. “Ford Motor Company’s Comprehensive Approach To Addressing The Opioid Crisis.” April 30, 2019. Accessed October 25, 2019.