Building trades unions working to collect face masks for frontline healthcare workers

St. Louis area building trades unions are combing through the inventory at their training centers and reaching out to their contractors to try to collect face masks for healthcare workers dealing with the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, following a call for help from Jenn Dean, Labor representative for the National Nurses Organizing Committee.

Due to a shortage of N95 masks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has lowered its guidelines to allow hospitals to provide paper surgical masks instead, despite substantial evidence that these masks do not actually stop transmission of the virus.

“We are expecting even these supplies will run out,” Dean said in a letter to Labor leaders. “The CDC’s site now recommends that when no masks are available, healthcare workers use bandanas or scarves while caring for COVID-19 patients. Recommending this as a backup ‘strategy,’ when we are still on the early side of this pandemic, is deplorable.

“We are trying to be proactive and creative in doing everything we can to protect our nurses and other frontline healthcare workers from contracting the virus so that they can continue to staff hospitals and care for our community,” Dean said in a letter asking local building trades unions for help.

“It’s a terrible situation,” said Brandon Flinn, business manager of the Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council (EMLDC). “We’re reaching out to our contractors and going through the inventory at our training center to see if we’ve got anything we can send their way.”

Pat White, president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, said the Council would coordinate donations in order to get the supplies to healthcare workers and hospitals that need them.

Dean said NNOC is looking for donations of following types of masks:

  • N95
  • N99
  • N100

Dean said the supplies will be donated to other healthcare locals or directly to area hospitals.

For more information, contact Dean at 415-917-7132 or email

Donations can be coordinated by contacting the Labor Council at 3301 Hollenberg Dr., Bridgeton, MO 63044, or by calling 314-291-8666.

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