People are dying.
They're dying across the country — an average of more than 130 people a day amid the deadliest U.S. drug epidemic in the modern era. But the fast-spreading opioid crisis has taken an especially large toll in Kentucky, where Ford Motor Co. has nearly 14,000 workers at two of its biggest assembly plants.
It's just a matter of statistics, UAW Local 862 President Todd Dunn says, that the casualties include some of those workers and their families.
"When you look at the Kentucky Truck Plant, you basically have two aircraft carriers' worth of people," Dunn told Automotive News. "There's not one person that's not touched in some way or another from opioid use, opioid death, suicide or overdose."
More help preventing and treating opioid misuse is high on the UAW's agenda for this year's contract negotiations with the Detroit 3.
"The issue demands that we get involved, and it demands that we set an example of combating it in a positive way — the union and the company," UAW Vice President Rory Gamble, whose granddaughter died of an opioid overdose in January, told Automotive News. "We have to grab this thing and address it now."