In 2017, the Iron Workers (IW) launched the groundbreaking Maternity Provision Policy (MPP), a first-of-its-kind program in the building trades. It offers qualifying ironworker women up to six months of pre-delivery and six to eight weeks of postpartum paid leave, which is rare in the construction industry.
Physically demanding work in the ironworking trade can endanger a pregnancy. Stories some ironworker women shared at the 2016 Women Build Nations Conference inspired the IW leadership to launch the revolutionary program.
"The MPP worked out very well for me," said Kelci Mauldin, journeymen ironworker from Iron Workers Local 808 in Orlando. "It helped me stay ahead of everything during pregnancy and after."
Since its inception in 2017, 56 ironworker women have claimed well over $500,000 in benefits from the ironworker-employer partnership, IMPACT, under the program. The program not only keeps ironworkers from having to put their unborn children at risk, but also helps the organization retain well-trained workers. A report on the correlation between the MPP and ironworker retention revealed the organization retained 83 percent of the ironworkers who received benefits from 2017 to 2019.
"The IW MPP helped ensure that my baby and I were safe during my pregnancy," said Shania Pelage, an apprentice from IW Local 46L in New York. "I didn't have to spend all my life savings just to get through the pregnancy."
The IW MPP also brings relief to partner contractors. It helped Red Cedar Steel in Menomonie, Wisconsin, retain well-trained journeymen-level ironworker women after their pregnancies. "It's a huge weight off my shoulders knowing that our ironworker women are safe during their pregnancies. They get to keep their health insurance and return to work afterward," said Pete Hayes, president of Red Cedar Steel. "The IW MPP helped us retain our seasoned ironworker women after their pregnancies and relieved us of any probable liabilities. It's just good business sense to have a program like it."
Ironworker apprentices who are starting their careers find the IW MPP a significant incentive in deciding to make ironworking a life-long career. Audrey Osborn, a third-year apprentice from IW Local 46 in Springfield, Illinois, felt that she finally found a career where she didn't have to sacrifice her family life. She worked many jobs in retail, which didn't pay well and offered little to no benefits, before entering the IW apprenticeship program. She had not heard of paid maternity leave in the retail jobs she held.
"When I heard about the MPP, I was ecstatic," Osborn said. "I was already happy with being an ironworker, but the MPP being available to us convinced me to stay and make it my forever career. My husband and I are thinking of starting a family, and it's very encouraging to know that I wouldn't have to choose between having a family and a satisfying career."
The MPP is the first benefit Osborn mentions to high school students and their parents when representing IW Local 46 at career fairs, among other great benefits a career as an ironworker offers.
CNBC named the IW one of the "15 Best Companies for Parents," and the organization ranked No. 1 in Entrepreneur's "19 Companies and Industries with Radically Awesome Parental Leave Policies."
See original article on bicmagazine.com.