Cora Lewis writes, "The membership of the 130,000-strong Ironworkers union is an overwhelmingly male crowd, but the approximately 2,100 women members just won a benefit that would be prized by working women across the country: Six months of paid maternity leave.
The leave, designed to be taken prior to delivery, complements six to eight weeks of post-delivery leave.
"The challenges of physical work associated with the ironworking trade create unique health challenges that can jeopardize a pregnancy," the union said in a statement announcing the benefit, noting that paid maternity leave "is virtually unheard of in the building trades."
The numbers put maternity leave for iron-working women on par with corporate employees at tech companies like Etsy, Adobe, Spotify and Cisco. Netflix and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are among the only companies that offer workers more paid parental leave, according to data gathered by Care@Work, which specializes in family benefits.
Bill Brown, CEO of Ben Hur Construction Co., called the benefit "an investment, because we want our well-trained ironworker women to come back to work." "