MTA was once a male dominated industry, but when the shift changed in the amount of women entering in the workforce and entering in more nontraditional trades it was inevitable that more and more women would come to Work for the MTA. With the amount of women working for the MTA rapidly changing our basic needs are still not being met in this Rapid Transportation industry.
The MTA is composed of over 74,000 employees and 19% of these employees are women. From train operators, bus drivers, cleaners, conductors, bus maintainers, station agents and track workers, and our basic needs to function in this corporation isn’t being met. In 2014 our union TWU was able to get awarded our first paid Maternity/Paternity leave, in which employees are “entitled to two weeks of leave for the birth of a child and it has to be used prior to any other leave that the employee may have”.
This is a start but it isn’t enough, for the simple fact that new mothers don’t get cleared back to work by their doctors until after 6 weeks postpartum for a vaginal birth and 8 weeks for a cesarean. If you’re a new employee who may have less than a year you won’t qualify for FLMA ( in order to receive FMLA you must have worked a minimum of 12 months and 1250 working hours preceding your request to leave date) , so you would only be entitled to the two paid weeks. Along with the maternity leave, nursing mothers are supposed to be able to have 30 mins and a room to be able to express milk and a proper storage facility.
In April of 2009 a memorandum was put out about the laws of Milk expression which stated: “ In accordance with Section 206-c of New York State labor law, MTA York City Transit Authority, including the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating (MaBSTOA) and the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority (SIRTOA) (hereinafter collectively referred to as MTA NYC Transit) will provide certain assistance in workplace for employees who are nursing mothers. The following are the benefits afforded to those employees who wish to continue the expression of breast milk upon returning work following the birth of a child:
For up to three years following the birth of a child, employees who are nursing are permitted to use up to thirty minutes during any regularly scheduled meal or break period for the purpose of expressing breast milk. In alternative, an employee may also take unpaid break time of up to 30 minutes for this purpose.
MTA NYC Transit will make reasonable efforts to provide a private room or other location for the purpose of expression of breast milk. If unable to provide a private room, a location will be designated by MTA NYC Transit which will not be open to others when an employee is expressing breast milk. This room will be in close proximity to the employees work area.”
The MTA has not followed through with these provisions, in fact it wasn’t until the 2017 contract went into ratification that the union began to make demands about women’s issues. Time and time again the union has attempted to rectify women’s issues only to get progress started on some issues but not completely fixed. Or they would get unreasonable accommodations awarded, for instance in the 2009-2012 arbitration award stated “ where the point of report for female employee has a locker room or restroom for male employees but does not have a locker room or restroom for female employees, the female employee shall be entitled , without loss of pay, to report to the nearest reporting facility with a women’s restroom or locker room” what if the next reporting facility is ten block or two stations away, how is this a reasonable accommodation for their employees? When is the MTA going to finally realize they have women workers amongst their rank and file?