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American Factories Like Hickey Freeman Stepped Up During The Pandemic To Manufacture Critical PPE For Their Communities; Schumer Urges Feds To Tap Hickey Freeman And American Textile Workers To Grow U.S Jobs & U.S. PPE Production 

Senator Says Hickey Freeman Produces World-Class PPE, Making It A Win-Win-Win For U.S. National Security, Health Workers, And Rochester Workers & Economy Alike 

Schumer Also Announces As A Direct Result Of His Years Of Work To Save Factory, Hickey Freeman Adding New Business And Will Now Start Adding 100 New Jobs In Rochester 

Schumer: ‘Marshall Plan’ For PPE Is Jobs Plan For Hickey Freeman & Rochester

Citing the U.S.’s inability to quickly ramp up domestic PPE production during the pandemic, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today stood with Hickey Freeman workers in Rochester to launch his ‘Marshall Plan’ campaign to secure an onshore supply chain for American-made PPE created by domestic manufacturers like Hickey Freeman and its parent company Rochester Tailored Clothing. Specifically, the senator unveiled the ‘Make PPE In America Act’ provision which he helped secure in the recently-Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will guarantee long-term contracts for U.S.-made PPE for federal agencies and the federal strategic stockpile. American companies like Hickey Freeman would be eligible for these contracts, which would potentially create jobs and boost U.S. manufacturing. Schumer also noted that given its volatility, depending heavily on the international PPE supply chain is a threat to U.S. national security, health workers, and families. 

Additionally, during his visit, Schumer announced that following his years of work to keep the Hickey Freeman factory in business, Hickey Freeman will now add 100 new jobs to their Rochester facility as a result of new agreements secured by the factory to produce new product for its customers. Hickey Freeman hired the first 14 new workers last week and is now moving to hire the remaining 100. 

“Hickey Freeman is a Rochester icon, and today I couldn’t be more excited to stand alongside its world-class workers to launch my ‘Marshall Plan’ to make American-made PPE the domestic standard,” said Senator Schumer. “Companies like Hickey Freeman stepped up to help their communities in the darkest hour, and their contributions to beating back the tide of COVID will never be forgotten. I will work to see that the Make PPE In America Act becomes law as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and secures the domestic PPE supply chain by investing in American manufacturers like Hickey Freeman.”

Schumer added, “I’m also proud to stand here today and announce that Rochester’s 122-year-old storied institution is set up for a bright future with new production and most importantly, 100 new jobs! Year after year I’ve fully committed myself to ensuring that Hickey Freeman can maintain their robust presence in Rochester and I could not be more proud that this formidable company has continued to grow and prosper.”

Rochester’s iconic Hickey Freeman made the shift early in the pandemic to make basic PPE for Rochester General Hospital, to fulfill the high demand from healthcare workers. The textile manufacturer reopened its facility that temporarily closed during the outbreak of the pandemic to produce thousands of face masks at a loss in partnership with the Xerox Corporation, which was also founded in Rochester. However, the COVID–19 pandemic exposed the lack of a coordinated federal strategy to buy PPE from domestic U.S. producers revealing a dire vulnerability in the United States supply chains for PPE. For example, while Hickey Freeman’s sister suit manufacturing factory Samuelsohn in Montreal was tapped by Canada to make $20 million worth of PPE for that nation, companies like Hickey Freeman were not similarly tapped by the U.S. government to fulfill its PPE needs.  That is why Schumer is pushing his provision to create a robust, secure, and wholly domestic PPE supply chain to safeguard U.S. public health and national security now and into the future. 

Specifically, the ‘Make PPE in America Act’ will first require U.S. agencies to create multi-year long-term contracts with domestic PPE suppliers, thus providing the necessary certainty and strong and consistent demand needed by U.S. producers to create new PPE manufacturing lines. The lack of multi-year contracts is a significant barrier to ramp up domestic PPE production. Secondly, the bill would require the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to create a new U.S. long-term domestic procurement strategy for PPE produced in the United States, including strategies to incentivize investment in and maintain U.S supply chains for all PPE sufficient to meet the needs of the U.S. during a public health emergency. The legislation would encompass all types of PPE from surgical masks, respirator masks, and respirator filters to face shields, protective eyewear, gloves, disposable and reusable surgical and isolation gowns, head and foot coverings, and other gear or clothing. 

Additionally, today Schumer announced that thanks to his years of work to keep the Rochester Hickey Freeman factory open and its hundreds of workers in business, the company will now add 100 new jobs under new agreements to bring new business to the Rochester factory. The new business is a direct result of the years of work that Senator Schumer has done to keep Hickey Freeman in business in Rochester after creditors threatened to liquidate the factory during a past bankruptcy reorganization by expanding the federal Wool Trust Fund that fixes an unfair tariff that would otherwise penalize producers from making suits in the U.S. 

Stephen Granovsky, CEO of Rochester Tailored Clothing said, “As one of the few remaining USA textile manufacturers, Senator Schumer’s ‘Make PPE in the USA’ Act is exactly what we need to ensure a robust domestic PPE manufacturing capacity  while at the same time  allowing us to grow jobs and new manufacturing lines here in Rochester.  And just as this plan positions us to add more future work, Senator Schumer’s past years of action to save this factory are again paying off even today by enabling us to secure new work and add 100 new jobs in Rochester.  None of this would have been possible without the Senator’s steadfast support.   Senator Schumer has long been the guardian angel of Hickey Freeman and his years of work are once again delivering for our Rochester factory and workers.”

Schumer has long fought to keep Hickey Freeman in business in Rochester. In 2009, when Hickey Freeman’s parent company at the time, Hartmarx, declared bankruptcy, threatening a liquidation and closure of the Rochester factory, Schumer led the charge to save this factory. Schumer successfully urged Hartmarx’s creditor, Wells Fargo, to continue providing Hartmarx with the credit they needed to continue manufacturing jobs in Rochester, saving hundreds of jobs. Ultimately, in 2012 Schumer helped save Hickey Freeman from bankruptcy, by shepherding a deal that allowed Grano Retail’s Luxury Men’s Apparel Group (LMAG), in partnership with Hickey Freeman Brand owner Authentic Brands Group (ABG) to take over the Hickey Freeman Rochester factory in 2013. In the time since, Schumer support helped LMAG and Hickey Freeman secure new contracts to manufacture suits for Dillard’s Department Store as well as for Ralph Lauren’s Blue Label line of Polo suits and sports jackets, and even for Hickey Freeman to help produce clothing for the 2016 Team USA Olympic Team.

“Hickey Freeman has been an essential part of Rochester’s community fabric for more than a century—and during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, they stepped up to provide vital support for our essential workers and healthcare heroes,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “This is more than just a business: it reflects Rochester’s proud history, our community values, and our bold and innovative future. I’m grateful to Senator Schumer for his leadership to advancing this ‘Marshall Plan’ in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and look forward to our continued work together to ensure Hickey Freeman can grow, create new job opportunities, and contribute to our economy for years to come.”

“This is great news for Hickey Freeman, for Monroe County and for American workers,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “Senator Schumer’s ‘Make PPE in America Act’, assures a reliable domestic supply chain of vital PPE, and creates opportunities for the American companies that pivoted to produce PPE when we needed it the most. Hickey Freeman is a Rochester icon. Their expansion and growth is a substantial boost in our efforts to bring Monroe back from the economic pause created by the pandemic. Thank you Senator Schumer for your tireless advocacy and support for Hickey Freeman and Monroe County.”

In December 2018 Schumer secured the provision in the Federal Farm Bill that fully funded the federal Wool Trust Fund program through 2023 which saves Hickey Freeman as much as $3 million a year in relief from unfair tariffs. The Wool Trust Fund was set to expire in 2019, and while the House of Representatives’ version of the Farm Bill included a provision to extend the trust fund until 2023 it also called for the Fund to be cut by 50% which would have jeopardized the viability of Rochester’s Hickey Freeman factory.  Fortunately, Schumer secured a provision in the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill and in the final bill that was signed into law in December 2018 that not only extended the Trust Fund program until 2023, but also fully funded it at 100%. The Wool Trust Fund compensates the domestic suit industry for the competitive disadvantage that results from an unfair “tariff inversion” where the duty on the imported finished product is lower than the duty on the inputs used to make the product here at home. The program is essential to put Hickey Freeman back on a level playing field with overseas suit competitors who import suits into the U.S. without ever having to pay the same wool duties as U.S. suit producers. Without the Wool Trust Fund, Hickey Freeman’s overseas competitors would have an unfair leg-up while putting our own U.S. manufacturers like Hickey Freeman in the lurch for making suits in the USA.  In 2014, Schumer was instrumental to first secure legislation in that year’s federal Farm Bill to extend the Wool Trust Fund’s authorization for five years through 2019 and to secondly restore adequate trust fund payment levels to address several years when the Trust was underfunded. In 2019, he secured the extension of the Wool Trust Fund program through 2023.  As a result of these efforts, Hickey Freeman’s Rochester factory is one of the few remaining US-based suit and apparel manufacturers.