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Unions ‘Working To Make The Lives Of Their Members Better’ - Oregon IBEW Locals Provide Member Pregnancy Benefits

Published Friday, August 7, 2020 8:00 am
by IBEW News
Unions ‘Working To Make The Lives Of Their Members Better’ - Oregon IBEW Locals Provide Member Pregnancy Benefits

(PORTLAND, OREGON) -  International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48, working with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and Harrison Trust, has added a new Maternity Leave Benefit for its members, as well as those of three other IBEW Locals in the state.  

The benefit allows for six months of paid leave, with 13 weeks being available prior to the expected due date and 13 more available after.

It’s available to any pregnant Member of Local 48, Salem Local 280, Medford Local 659 and Coos Bay Local 932.

Members will receive $800 per week in Time Loss Benefits.

“I ‘want choices available to our Members,’” Local 48 Business Manager Garth Bachman said. “This benefit ‘allows people to make decisions about pregnancy without worrying about going broke or losing health insurance.’”

Modeled on a similar benefit offered by the Ironworkers Union, Bachman says the IBEW’s - which went into effect on January 1st, goes one step further by not requiring any disability requirements, like doctor-mandated bed rest, in order to qualify.

Any pregnant IBEW Member who wants to access this can do so.

The Trust will also pay monthly Health Insurance Premiums so that the Member will receive six months of free Health Insurance coverage during that time for their families.

“I ‘don't want the industry dictating when members have kids,’” Bachman said. “This ‘puts the decision in the hands of the Member.’”

Bachman says the idea came to him from Bridget Quinn, Workforce Development Coordinator for the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center.

Quinn attended the 2017 Women Build Nations Conference in Chicago where the Ironworkers unveiled their Maternity Leave Plan and a Member, Bridget Booker, told her miscarriage story which was caused by working too far into her pregnancy for fear of losing her job.

“At that moment, the Trades ‘were not keen on having pregnant women on the job site,’” Booker said. “So, ‘you would hide it.’  (The question was) ‘Do I provide for my children or do I quit?’  ‘Do I provide for my rent and my bills or do I tell them I am pregnant and lose everything?’”

While it’s illegal to fire someone for being pregnant, Quinn noted that proving such discrimination is difficult: “Our industry has ‘frequent layoffs and it is difficult to prove when a layoff is due to a woman being pregnant.’  ‘Being able to take leave eliminates that fear of pregnancy-related layoff.”

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