When leaders from the iron workers’ union heard the heart-wrenching story of how a woman was on the job site ‘one day too many’ and suffered a miscarriage, they knew they needed to act. As one female member recalls, General President of the Iron Workers, Eric Dean, didn’t hesitate – “We will figure it out. We’ve got to do better.”
And they have. This past week, The Iron Workers and the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT), announced a paid maternity leave benefit.
The new policy, the first of its kind among construction and building trade unions, will provide up to six months paid leave, plus six to eight weeks post-partum, for members insured through the union and meeting a minimum accrued hours standard. Ultimately, according to NAME, this policy puts the decision-making in the hands of the woman and her doctor, and it means she can rejoin the workforce safely, when she and baby are healthy. The benefit is administered similarly to workers injured off the job, and is yet another way unions are supporting their members, particularly as membership grows more diverse.
“While women make up only 1.5 percent of our iron workers, we know that number will grow. This policy shows that we care about our workers and their families, and that you’ve got a job to come back to when you’re ready,” explained Vicki O’Leary Ironworkers International District Representative for Safety and Diversity.
IMPACT is the business side of the iron workers’ union. IMPACT runs union training centers, fosters business relationships, provides ongoing education and safety training courses, and administers an off-the-job accident program. Each iron worker contributes $.29 per hour to IMPACT.