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To Help Medical Professionals Battle The Coronavirus Outbreak, Buffalo Building Trades Unions & NYSUT-Represented Teachers Spearhead Effort That Resulted In A Donation Of Masks, Gloves, Gowns & Sanitizing Wipes To Two Area Hospitals

Published Thursday, March 26, 2020
by Staff & News Services
To Help Medical Professionals Battle The Coronavirus Outbreak, Buffalo Building Trades Unions & NYSUT-Represented Teachers Spearhead Effort That Resulted In A Donation Of Masks, Gloves, Gowns & Sanitizing Wipes To Two Area Hospitals

(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) – As Health Care, Medical and Hospital Professionals continue to warn of a dwindling amount of masks, gloves, gowns and sanitizing wipes to help battle the growing Coronavirus outbreak, the affiliated Member Unions of the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council and Union Teachers represented by the West Seneca Teachers Association (WSTA) came through in the clutch.

And with the need so urgent, the Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) has forwarded out a request from the region’s Health Care Unions for donations of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) materials, including: N95 Respirators; High-quality Respirators; Masks; Gowns; Gloves; and Face Shields. 


The WNYALF is asking any Western New York Union that has these items and wishes to donate them to local hospitals to contact WNYALF President Richard Lipsitz at 716-913-2210 or Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Representative Jim Scordato at 716-913-4236 - or drop them off at 1199 SEIU’s Buffalo Office, which is located at 2421 Main Street, which is currently being used as a collection point.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Trades had reached out to their Union Contractors and were able to come up with 1,000 construction-style masks, which were donated to the Kaleida Health System, Buffalo Building Trades President Paul Brown told

“We ‘stepped up in a time of need, as we always do,’” said International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17 Business Manager Gary Swain told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper.

In a statement sent to, Kaleida Health said: We are incredibly thankful to our great partners at the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council and our entire community for stepping up on behalf of our patients and Health Care Workers during this critical time.  Donated supplies like the N95 Respirator Masks will help ensure we continue to safely provide life-saving care during this public health crisis.

Meanwhile, Member WSTA Teachers reportedly contributed more than 1,400 goggles, a handful of N95 masks, hundreds of gloves, dozens of gowns and thousands of sanitizing wipes, as well as unused overhead transparencies that can be made into face shields, to the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC).

Joe Cantafio, who heads the WSTA and is an Executive Board Member of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), posted the following message on his Facebook Page:

On Saturday, March 21st, West Seneca West Teacher Audrey Sullivan contacted me asking if we could get into our school buildings.

When asked why, she told me of her friend who is a Nurse at ECMC and is need of Any Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that we might have, such as goggles or masks.

I then spoke to this Nurse and then to the Associate Chief of Emergency Medicine at ECMC and was appalled to hear that our brave Nurses and Medical Staff on the front lines are serving us and sacrificing their lives without enough PPE.

I then thought, our buildings have goggles, gowns and other PPE that won’t be used.

After a call with our West Seneca School District Administration and the West Seneca Police Department (WSPD) Chief, we arranged a pick up at our two middle schools and two high schools to arrange delivery to the Staff at ECMC.

Superintendent Matt Bystrak, our administration, and the WSPD once again jumped in without hesitation to make this happen.

Since then the Chief of Emergency Medicine (who I found out I graduated with from West Seneca West in 1988) and other leadership at ECMC helped to arrange a drop off of over 1,400 goggles, masks, hundreds of gloves, dozens of gowns and thousands of wipes.

Now, districts around Western New York, can work together to bring needed protective gear to our medical professionals.

In the coming days, Teacher Union Leaders will be working with their district administration to gather what they can from our schools and help in this small but important way.

This started because one of our Teachers tried to find a way to help a friend who is on the front lines during this crisis.

This was followed by 48 hours of texts, e-mails, and phone calls to make this happen.

This reminds me of how we will get through this unprecedented crisis.

Doing what we always do, finding ways to help those that need it and supporting those that help us the most.

To donate, call 716-898-3844 or e-mail

They are accepting donations from 9 a.m. to 1p.m.

Thank you to Audrey Sullivan, Amy Foster, Jen Pugh, Diane Altieri, Dan McCarten, Chief Daniel Denz, Officers Carr and Urbanski, Matt Bystrak, Jay Winicki, Jay Brinker, Dave Kean, Sharon Loughran, Ryan MacKeller, Franco DiPasqua, Marissa Fallacaro-Dougherty, Tracy Spagnolo, Joe Farr, Mike McMahon, Greg Jubulis, and Chris Hart for helping us make this happen.

If I left someone out, please forgive me.

"I would never have thought about this if it wasn’t for this Teacher calling me concerned about her friend who is an Emergency Room Nurse," Cantafio told The Buffalo News. "In forty-eight hours, we were able to get stuff to help those on the front lines.  That was just from our district. If everyone did that, I think it would be great."

For More On This Labor News Story, Read The Buffalo News’ Report at



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