From Toledo to the Far East: Jobs, Frugs and the Trump factor

(WTOL) - Toledo News Leader will get a first-hand look at the issues that affect us here in Toledo that are coming in to focus as President Trump passes his first 100 days in office mark.

Beginning this Saturday, I’ll be traveling to Hawaii, China, Japan, and the Philippines and reporting as part of the East West Center 2017 journalist-focused Jefferson Fellowship.

I will be in countries where the jobs migrated, in part because of trade deals that resulted over decades in tens of thousands of job losses in our area.

I’ll also look at the origin of the drugs flooding our neighborhoods. China is the world’s #1 producer of fentanyl.

“You may not like what they’re doing but it’s not entirely fair to blame the other country for selling it to us when Americans are buying it,” said U.S. Senator
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) about the high demand for drugs, specifically fentanyl, from American drug users.

A national leader in fighting this epidemic, Sen. Brown is championing legislation to seize the drugs coming from overseas like China before they reach Ohio.

I not only spoke with Senator Brown before my trip, but other leaders who stress that people in northwest Ohio and southeastern Michigan are informed about current events and realize how deeply connected they are to the rest of the world.

United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 14 President Ray Wood says younger workers are worried about another war. This is one reason why Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who traveled to Asia in April, insists on reigning in a combative North Korea through a diplomatic partnership with China.

“Ninety percent of the trade of North Korea is with China. They share a border with North Korea. They have traditionally been the country that has kept North Korea afloat, literally from imploding economically. They have more leverage over North Korea than literally any other country in the world,” explained Senator Portman.

Persuading China to be on the same side as the U.S. is critical to prevent North Korea from attacking American allies in Asia which could result in millions killed and drag the U.S. into a conflict.  

Arguably the hottest topic are job losses which have skyrocketed since the 1980s while union membership has plummeted.

UAW’s Ray Wood affirms unions have been forced to adapt by learning more skills and expanding their job duties. He is calling on companies to view workers as a partner who shares the same goal: keeping American companies and workers strong.

“In Europe, Asia, they’re all trying to get a better hand. Instead of being adversaries or pushing us off to the side and not value their input, how about pull the best out of them so we can meet those global competitors and let them know who Americans are.”

On jobs, drugs, and world leadership, America is being re-defined, I’m excited to get a first-hand look at the players and the dynamics.