A new video, “American Textiles–The Story of American Made PPE,” launched by the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), in partnership with Workers United and 1199SEIU, showcases the importance of rebuilding America’s domestic supply chain and preserving good union jobs that make safe products for essential frontline workers.
The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the nation’s need to address supply chain deficiencies that were apparent with the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers during the pandemic. U.S. manufacturers quickly retooled production lines to manufacture over 1 billion items of critical PPE such as face masks, isolation gowns and testing kits for frontline workers and the public
These manufacturers planted the seeds of a budding reshoring and nearshoring effort and for the first time in years, the U.S. has fully constituted supply chains for critical medical supplies.
“Our video, ‘American Textiles: The Story of American-Made PPE,’ underscores the need for urgent government support of a vital domestic PPE supply chain, while also shining a light on an agile manufacturing engine that grew out of the pandemic and is fully capable of supplying our nation’s PPE,” NCTO president and CEO Kim Glas said.
Among these manufacturers were Workers United’s partners Ferrara Manufacturing and Unionwear. Both manufacturers, in partnership with Parkdale Mills, a domestic textile supplier, were awarded a contract to produce 20 million face masks early this year. This award was among the first allocations of the $3 billion allocated in the 2021 American Rescue Plan for federal procurement of domestically made PPE.
In a time of economic uncertainty, this contract stabilized companies and helped create hundreds of union jobs in New York and New Jersey, and thousands across the impacted supply chain in the Southeastern United States, the groups said.
“We’ve done good business creating good jobs serving our national security through this crisis,” said Mitch Cahn, CEO of Newark N.J.-based Unionwear. “We are part of a supply chain solution that will keep our country safe now and into the future.”
Members and representatives from Workers United are working closely with 1199SEIU and partnering companies to pass the “Made in America PPE Act,” which enjoys bipartisan support and is part of the current infrastructure bill being negotiated in Washington, D.C. The act will require all federal procurement of PPE to be made from domestic textile sources and produced in American factories.
“Our members are proud to partner with responsible companies like Ferrara and Unionwear to make safe, high-quality products for essential workers,” said Edgar Romney, secretary-treasurer of Workers United and manager of the New York Metropolitan Joint Board, which represents members from Ferrara and Unionwear.”
Glas said the supply chains “reconstituted overnight will be predominantly offshored if we don’t get critical policy solutions over the finish line.”
“This video captures an incredible American story of companies coming together to build a supply chain virtually from scratch to provide desperately needed PPE for our frontline workers and citizens,” Davis Warlick, executive vice president of Parkdale Mills, said. “By procuring 100 percent American-made masks, the government put thousands of workers across the United States to work and further proved that the U.S. textile industry has the expertise, capacity, and capability to thrive when given the opportunity.”