BOSTON - Monday, August 17, 2020 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the City of Boston has signed a contract with Sterlingwear of Boston, a locally-owned, third generation East Boston garment manufacturer, to produce up to 150,000 medical gowns for Boston's first responders and frontline workers. The partnership has helped re-employ highly skilled garment workers while providing needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"During these challenging times, I am pleased that the City of Boston has been able to support a long-time, locally owned business, while producing needed, high quality PPE to support Boston's first responders," said Mayor Walsh. "We will continue to support our local and small businesses that employ our residents and fuel our neighborhoods."
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a worldwide shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and Mayor Walsh and the Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC) worked closely together to identify a way to support both a locally-owned business and workers, while increasing the supply of PPE for Boston's first responders and frontline workers. Prior to pivoting operations to produce medical gowns, Sterlingwear of Boston was set to close after the federal government ended a 45 year contract to manufacture the traditional U.S. Navy wool peacoats earlier this year. Sterlingwear of Boston is the last remaining garment manufacturer in the City of Boston.
"Our members at Sterlingwear of Boston are very proud to apply their craft in the service of protecting frontline workers right here in the City of Boston. The work of garment workers can often go unnoticed, but we're thankful to the Greater Boston Labor Council and Mayor Walsh for working with us and Sterlingwear of Boston to highlight the important work that our members do in the needletrades," said Warren Pepicelli, Manager / International Executive Vice President, New England Joint Board UNITE HERE. "This is an important example of why we should value manufacturing work and what is possible when we put our neighbors back to work."
"As a family owned company now in its third generation Sterlingwear of Boston is no stranger to making high quality garments for our nation's heroes," said Frank Fredella, CEO and Owner, Sterlingwear of Boston. "Over the past 55 years we've been proud to make uniforms for almost every branch of the US military from our East Boston factory. We're immensely proud to be putting our years of experience in the garment industry to work by manufacturing critically needed PPE for frontline workers during this pandemic. It is fitting that Bostonians will be wearing PPE made right here in their city. We hope they'll wear them with the same pride we take in making them."
In addition to supporting the City's first responders, Sterlingwear of Boston is expected to manufacture medical gowns for small and local businesses, including community health centers, and assisted living and nursing homes.
The City of Boston has created a platform to help businesses source the personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies they will be required to have available in order to ensure the safety of employees and customers as industries reopen. Along with industry-specific reopening requirements, the page includes a list of self-identified, local suppliers of PPE and cleaning supplies, information on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' vendor database, and partner organizations helping to connect businesses with vendors.