#USWMade: American Roots aims to make a million masks in midst of pandemic


A few weeks ago, USW members at American Roots were laid off as the USA-based apparel maker lost 75 percent of its business. Today, they're hiring as they work nonstop to make masks and PPE to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our workers could have stayed home, collected unemployment," said American Roots CEO Ben Waxman. "And they made a choice in the middle of a national crisis, a global pandemic, to come to work and make masks for people they've never met before."

The operation was bolstered by sisters and brothers at the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), themselves out of work, who volunteered time to help retool the factory from making sweatshirts and blankets to safely making face shields and masks.

"In the first week we put out 10,000 face shields, working day and night" Waxman said. "Our workers made sacrifices that I will never forget."

American Roots, whose workers are members of USW Local 366 in Maine, District 4, is now doing custom face masks, including those made with union and other logos. Those interested in custom orders can email info@americanrootswear.com, call 207-854-4098 or visit the American Roots website.

The company is scaling up - and hiring workers - so that it can produce 1,000,000 washable face masks and 500,000 face shields in the next few months.

"It is hopeful, and it is promising, and it's just a wonderful thing that we were able to bring our workforce back," said American Roots co-owner Whitney Waxman.

American Roots USW mask

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