BELLEVUE, Washington — New mothers in the construction industry are now being afforded an opportunity to get back to work sooner and with more conveniences thanks to lactation pods on job sites. Until now, they were forced to make do using provisional spaces (port-a-potties, vehicles, etc.) and it just wasn’t conducive to being a new, working mom. To alleviate this problem, a joint initiative between SMACNA-Western Washington and Smart Local 66 are the first in the industry to make lactation pods available to mothers in need, starting in April 2023.
Thanks to an exclusive partnership with a custom fabricator, the clean, sanitary pods from Portable Trailer Products will be digitally secure via an app which can offer peace of mind. They’ll have a seat, sink, HVAC, electricity for the breast pump and phone chargers plus a refrigerator to keep the breast milk cold during the remaining hours of the workday. The lactation pods are designed for comfort and accessibility and will keep women from the embarrassment of getting walked in on. They will also make it easier to keep breast milk fresh, reduce the difficulty of locating and getting to a private space and provide storage for their pumping gear.
Another tradeswoman, a fifth-year apprentice, pumped in her car while at work as she was not provided with a space. Yet another made curtains to hang in her car for privacy purposes.
“It isn’t always easy or time efficient for women to get to and from a remote, undesignated pumping location in the middle of the workday,” Meyen said. “Breastfeeding mothers need supplies, such as a breast pump, coolers, bottles and towels, not to mention access to a private, physical space and power.”
Four organizations partnered together to raise funds, bringing this groundbreaking initiative to the Pacific Northwest: Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 66 (The Leadership and Women’s Committee), SMACNA-Western Washington (DE&I/WIC Committee), the Northwest Labor Management Organizational Trust and the Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC.