Employers Say Finding Drug-Free Workers is a Problem

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- When it comes to bringing in new jobs, this week has been a good one for West Virginia with two major economic announcements.

On Tuesday, auto parts manufacturer Sogefi announced it will soon hire 250 workers at its plant in Prichard, W.Va.

On Thursday, petrochemical giant Odebrecht announced it's exploring the possibility of building an ethane cracker plant near Parkersburg, W.Va., potentially creating thousands of jobs.

"It's been a great week," Keith Burdette, executive director of the West Virginia Development Office said. "It shows the promise of West Virginia."

Burdette says despite the creation of these new jobs, employers are facing a serious problem of finding drug-free workers.

"Make no mistake," Burdette said, "it's a message we've got to deliver to those men and women who want to find jobs. There are jobs available today, but don't make an excuse about jobs if you can't pass a drug screen. That's something you can only do."

It's such an issue, officials with Odebrecht even brought it up during Thursday's announcement.

"Here in the U.S., one of the issues we have is drugs," David Peebles, Odebrecht director of Business Development said.

Sogefi is also dealing with the issue, according to General Manager Troy Thomas. He says while his current staff is drug-free and hard working, he continues to see a significant number of applicants who want to work at the plant, but can't because they can't pass a drug test.

As for the officials at Odebrecht, they say their policy is simple.

"You do not get hired if you do not pass the drug testing policy," Peebles said. "This might sound to you like 'oh what the heck', but safety of your fellow workers, productivity in a plant is very important."

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