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Labor's Response to the Opioid Crisis

Updated: Nov 2, 2018

September 26, 2018 – David Chase, best-selling author and advocate for high-value delivery transformation, discussed the topic of his most recently released book, The Opioid Crisis Wake-Up Call: Health Care is Stealing the American Dream. Here’s How We Take it Back, or an audience of Labor leaders, employers, and health industry representatives convened by the America’s Agenda Board of Directors.

Chase believes American Labor is uniquely positioned to take a lead role in attacking the root drivers of the opioid addiction crisis, which like healthcare hyperinflation, wage stagnation and the erosion of funding for national priorities like public education and infrastructure investment, he maintains are rooted in a massively dysfunctional mainstream health care delivery system.

In February, the America’s Agenda Board of Directors hosted a presentation by Karen Grear, LICSW, Ph.D., director of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craft Worker’s Member Assistance Program, on the Bricklayers’ pioneering program to prevent and treat opioid addiction among its membership. Citing the startling number of deaths due to opioid overdose – 310,000 since 2000 – and the latest finding that opioid overdose has become the leading cause of death for adults under 50, Dr. Grear emphasized that opioid addiction is now a major healthcare crisis in this country. The impact on American Labor has been particularly concerning, she noted, as overdose is now the leading cause of death in the construction and building trades.

Dr. Grear reported on findings that union-based prevention and addiction management programs were relatively effective compared to programs sponsored by employers and other institutional sponsors, a differential she attributed to the high degree of trust workers demonstrate toward assistance provided by their unions

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