Press Release

Union Workers in the Building Trades Donate Masks to Nurses Amidst Government Inaction

NNU and NABTU logos

Today, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), an alliance of fourteen affiliated unions collectively representing over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the building and construction industry, announced a partnership with National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union of registered nurses in America, to donate N-95 respirator masks and other protective equipment to nurses.

“The health and safety of our members and their families is always job number one,” said NABTU President Sean McGarvey. “All of North America is our family right now, and we stand ready to help. We commend the thousands of nurses, first-responders, and healthcare workers who are putting their lives on the line every day during this pandemic. Given the shortage of health supplies, we are asking our contractors and our own training centers to donate N-95 respirators and other protective equipment like face shields and goggles as quickly as possible in their own communities. Our men and women will continue doing all we can to support those in need during this critical time.”

“We are beyond grateful to the building trades for their generous donation of respirator masks and other equipment to help protect nurses and other health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN. “Our nation’s leaders have failed to protect us while we care for this country’s sick, and we condemn their inaction. Working people always have each other’s backs, even when our government does not.”

Nurses say they are especially appreciative of the donated protective equipment given that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently weakened their infectious disease guidelines for health care workers. The agency announced that in a pinch, even a bandana or scarf is adequate protection for nurses.

“The CDC’s guidelines are meaningless because they are based on inadequate stock, not on actual science about what protects nurses and other health care workers,” said Castillo. “We need the highest level of protections—N-95 respirator masks and other protective gear—not surgical masks or bandanas. Right now, the building trades unions are stepping up to help get us that equipment, as the government should have begun doing months ago.”

There are several ways building trades and construction industry employers can donate their masks. If they know a nurse or health care worker through their Central Labor Councils, they should work locally to coordinate distributions of the masks. Other options are to ship them to NNU’s office in California or to the AFL-CIO’s office in Washington, D.C.

For more information on how to donate, visit

“Nurses make an oath to protect our patients, and it’s not every day that someone steps up to protect us. It is incredibly meaningful to know that the workers in the building trades have our back,” said Castillo. “We will truly never forget their life saving generosity.”

National Nurses United is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States, with more than 150,000 members nationwide. North America's Building Trades Unions are an alliance of 14 national and international unions that collectively represent over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the U.S. and Canada.