Scheinman Institute Advances Pandemic Gear Supply Chain

A 2024 ILR School Scheinman Institute contract with Technologies for Pandemic Defense will bring labor to the table to facilitate discussions with government, industry and manufacturers of personal protective equipment to support the design and purchase of new respirators and related equipment.

Under the new contract, ILR will develop a consensus statement with at least three major unions about the need for PPE innovation and develop a coalition of at least five major unions and hospitals to advocate for specific policy changes.

The coalition will develop and advocate for strategies to bolster PPE quality, availability and usage through regulation, legislation and other mandates. To generate the statement, ILR will facilitate an in-person meeting with labor unions to discuss the need for improving PPE products.

Without an innovative, robust, and sustainable supply chain of effective PPE, front-line workers' lives will be at risk, said John August, director of the Scheinman Institute's Healthcare and Partners Program. In a 2022 Scheinman Institute blog post, he challenged the effectiveness of disposable N95s currently worn by health care workers.

Scheinman Director Harry Katz, ILR's Jack Sheinkman Professor of Collective Bargaining, said, "In light of the risk of future PPE shortages, it is the right time to build a consensus between the frontline workers, their unions and hospital leaders to develop forward-looking principles for what 'next-generation' respirators should look like. By presenting a unified vision of a more robust respiratory protection supply chain, health care labor and management can help steer these federal respirator innovation efforts toward products that will better protect workers from pandemics while reducing the preparedness burden on hospitals."

Read the full story on the ILR website.

Amira Shimin '25 is an ILR Communications student writer.

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