Laid-off costume department workers volunteer to make protective masks


NEW LOOK OF THE SEASON: Rebecca Lewis—Good & Welfare Committee chair at International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 28—wears a cat-patterned mask made by a volunteer committee of union workers who work in wardrobe departments.

Several dozen members of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 28 who work in the wardrobe department are volunteering to make protective masks for health care workers—alongside members of IATSE Local 488 and SAG-AFTRA. From Southwest Washington to The Dalles, hospitals and home health care workers are facing a shortage of masks, and are calling for donations.

Volunteers use close-weave cotton fabric to make the masks, based on a pattern and instructions put out by Deaconess Hospital in Indiana. The masks union volunteers are making aren’t medical grade and are not guaranteed to prevent any illness, but they can be used so that more medical grade masks are available to front line workers. On March 16, a batch was delivered to the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles. Others have gone to grocery workers, or to Portland Public Schools maintenance workers who are still on the job.

“It’s great that we’re able to pitch in,” said Rebecca Lewis, chair of Local 28’s Good & Welfare Committee. “And we’re glad to be able to do it, but it’s also really upsetting to a lot us that in the richest country in the world, people are sewing protective equipment for medical professionals — in their homes.”


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