U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) joined with leaders and members of Workers United, the nation’s clothing manufacturing union, and the owners of Ferrara Manufacturing, a family-owned, female-led small business which traditionally manufactures luxury clothing for brands including Ralph Lauren, to celebrate the fulfillment of an order of 17.3 million masks, one of the first to be awarded through the American Rescue Plan.
Earlier this year, Ferrara Manufacturing, in partnership with Workers United and industry allies were awarded a contract to produce up to 17.3 million face masks. This award was among the first allocations of the USD 3 billion allocated in the 2021 American Rescue Plan for federal procurement of domestically made Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Senator Gillibrand voted for the legislation and was encouraged by the award to her constituents in New York’s fabled Garment District. This contract stabilized and helped create hundreds of union jobs in New York and thousands across the impacted supply chain in the Southeast USA.
The order was created as part of President Joe Biden’s commitment to Build Back Better and invest in American business. Of significance, the masks comply with the Berry Amendment requirements that mandate that products be made from American fabric sources and manufactured in American factories and traditionally apply to apparel products produced for the Department of Defense.
This contract creates masks for community health centers, food pantries, and soup kitchens across the country. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been a proponent of the plans to award contracts to domestic factories, and earlier this year she introduced the End Outsourcing Act, which will provide tax benefits to companies that help bring good paying jobs back to America, re-employing workers and helping the economy recover.
“We are thrilled our workers have the opportunity to fulfill these orders,” said Edgar Romney, Secretary-Treasurer of Workers United/SEIU. “Through this partnership we have proven that we can create good jobs for union workers rebuilding a vibrant supply chain for PPE, serving essential workers. We deeply appreciate Senator Gillibrand’s support and hope that this example illustrates why all federal procurement of PPE should be made with domestic content, right here at home.”
“As in the beginning of the pandemic, we are proud to meet the crisis to produce PPE for our essential workers,” said Gabrielle Ferrara, COO of Ferrara Manufacturing. “That blueprint for this partnership is rooted in the height of the pandemic in spring 2020 in New York, when COVID-19’s ravages had shuttered the outsourced global PPE supply chain, leaving our health care workforce vulnerable and at deadly risk. Together we met that crisis, joining over 30 other unionized manufacturers and Southern textile industry partners to safely re-open, re-engineer our operations, and re-build a domestic supply chain to make gowns, masks, and face shields for essential workers across the nation, saving countless lives. We look forward to continuing to provide the highest quality, American-made masks.”
This week, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee passed a bi-partisan Made in America PPE Act, which will require federal agencies to procure products made from American fabric sources and manufactured in American factories. This act not only provides a pathway to create American jobs but incentivizes manufacturers, like Ferrara, to continue investing in capacity to complete Federal PPE bids under stable, long term contracts.
Workers United is affiliated with SEIU, representing 75000 apparel, laundry, food service, warehouse distribution and manufacturing workers in the U.S. and Canada. Workers United is headquartered in Philadelphia.