Breaking: Grass Roots Effort to Assist First Responders
Below is a letter from Joe Delacrus, a Local 40 SMART Sheet Metal Worker in Groton, CT. His employer was asked by a local nurse to make the aluminum strips used on N95 masks so they could sew them in the cotton masks being made by volunteers around the Country. They are looking to separate orders by Zip code and direct first responders asking for strips to the Local Union in that area. Attached is the description of the part that we posted a video of on our Hillery Company Facebook to show other folks how we are making the parts.
To all SMART Union members,
I am employed at Hillery Company in Groton Connecticut and am a member of Local 40 Sheet Metal Workers Union. Hillery was asked by a local nurse to make the aluminum strips used on N95 masks so they could sew them in the cotton masks being made by volunteers around the Country . I posted a picture showing a small box of strips on March 24th and it has since gone viral. Hillery has take over 1,900 orders and shipped 500 totaling over 40,000 parts. We contacted our Business Manager (Dave Roche) and Business Agent (John Nimmons) asking for the Union to help and they filled 18 order sending out roughly 4,000 parts. Orders are continuing to pour in faster than Hillery can fill them, and we are reaching out to the International for help.
It is my hope that we can separate orders by Zip code and direct the folks asking for strips to the Local Union in that area. We need all hands on deck as this effort is too big for a small company in Connecticut. Attached is the description of the part that we posted a video of on our Hillery Company Facebook to show other folks how we are making the parts.
We have received requests from Hospitals and small sewing groups from every State and Canada. If we can connect folks with signatory manufacturers in their zip code the masks will go directly to folks in that immediate area. The Union has the infrastructure to handle this request and could mobilize this idea as early as Monday morning. Time is of the essence as orders for first responders will go unfilled as we cannot possibly fill them. It is my hope that SMART will share this email with the leaders of every local and send me the contacts. Our volunteers will match the requester with the closest contractor and ask they share this on their Facebook.
Hillery started a Go Fund Me to offset the price of shipping and had material suppliers donate the sheets of aluminum. We have also reached out to our customers asking for donations and have collected roughly $4,000.00 which seems to be covering the shipping. Please beware of folks asking for high quantities as we found some are trying to package an sell them.
Hillery copied the part from an N95 mask, but made it shorter to get more parts out of a sheet. The local seamstress we first gave the parts to gave us a sample mask and the strip works great, but could be different sizes depending on how you are cutting them. One manufacturer is using the drops from a .250” x 3” parting tool and that works great. Hillery sheared one 48” x 96” sheet in (16) 3” x 96” strips then tacked a spacer in two spots allowing us to cut 16 parts per hit. I am sure someone will have better ways and I encourage folks to post it on their website.
This is a grass roots effort and most of the folks asking for the strips are sharing stories about their loved ones going to work without protection. I am asking all of my brothers and sisters to join Local 40 in our mission to help us get past this Covid-19 catastrophe.