USW members, partners step up to make, donate supplies for health care workers

Hospitals and health care facilities across the United States are scrambling to find enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to deal with the coronavirus epidemic.  Steelworker members and their employers are stepping up to fill this great need by diverting their PPE towards those who need it most — front-line health care workers.

TECK Corporation, for example, a mining company in British Columbia, Canada, diverted a transport truck full of masks and sanitizers to local health care facilities.  They also dipped into their warehouse supply for respirators to send to Royal Inland Hospital at the request of Local 7619 members who have partners and spouses working in the hard-hit health care industry.

“Right now, amidst great crisis, our members and partners are showing what it means to be union proud and what it means to stand in solidarity with all workers,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who also oversees the union’s health care sector. “Solidarity is our only chance in this fight.”

United Steelworkers Local 9-0425 members, along with the N.C. AFL-CIO Eastern Piedmont Central Labor Council, also donated boxes of gloves to Vidant North Hospital in Roanoke Rapids, N.C. And thanks to the advocacy of Local 15253 President Joe Padavan and his fellow members, Pennsy Supply, a construction company based in Lancaster, Pa., has donated 1,300 N95 masks to the nearby Hershey Medical Center.

Some USW employers have even rerouted their production entirely to make PPE amidst the outbreak. When Tito’s, the Texas vodka distiller, started making sanitizer to help consumers ward off the virus, members of Local 390 at Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. joined the cause by making the bottle labels. And soon, the upstate New York paper mill workers will be lending their skills and machines to make gowns and masks for pop-up clinics and treatment centers throughout the state.

“What a proud day for us all!” the local said in a March 26 Facebook post.

In District 4, members of Local 366 at American Roots, an all American-sourced and American-made custom apparel company based in Portland, Maine, have switched up their production and are now sewing masks and gowns for health care workers.

“When we asked our entire team who would be willing to work once we were able to produce PPE products, every single hand went up,” said American Roots co-owners Ben Waxman and Whitney Reynolds in a Facebook post. “We are united, we are fearless, and we will do our part to help our country.”

You can visit the USW’s COVID resource page to learn how to donate PPE to hospitals and other facilities in need.

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