Union Finds 39 Million N95 Masks
SEIU has announced that they will provide the masks to hospitals in NY and California
The federal government, state governments, and private hospitals all are in a race to find masks to protect healthcare workers and first responders. While many are reporting having difficulty finding them, a union has saved the day and found a supplier who can deliver 39 Million N95 masks.
According to SEIU- United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), the union has located 39 million critically needed N95 masks. They say they are connecting states, counties, health systems, and hospitals with the supplier so that they can purchase them. SEIU-UHW launched their search for masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) five days ago in response to pleas from their members and other frontline healthcare workers about a shortage of PPE. SEIU-UHW represents 97,000 members who work in hospitals throughout California.
Within 48 hours, the union had sourced a distributor who has 39 million masks and then found another supplier who can produce 20 million more masks a week. Additionally, they found a supplier who can produce millions of face shields for healthcare workers.
“SEIU-UHW members and healthcare workers all over California are desperate for more protection, so we are seeking out supplies wherever we can get them,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW. “We are continuing to turn over every rock to see if we can find more personal protective equipment to make sure that healthcare workers, who are heroically putting their own health on the line to care for patients, can do their jobs as safely as possible.”
SEIU-UHW says the suppliers have agreed to sell the masks for $5 each. Contrary to some initial reports, the union will have no financial stake in the sale of the masks. They will be distributed to hospitals in California, New York and possibly Arizona and will also go to both union and non-union hospitals. The union has also said that they will continue to look for more suppliers to meet the growing needs created by the COVID-19 outbreak.