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Union Survey on Lactation Spaces Launched

Submitted by Staff on Thu, 09/15/2016 - 10:17

There have been several concerns raised about the conditions of work for female faculty and graduate students at Rutgers. In the coming months, I will be writing to you to ask you share these concerns with the AAUP-AFT’s Committee on Gender and Race Equity set up specifically to address these issues. Here I want to draw your attention to the question of lactation spaces. In particular, we are trying to determine if you have an adequately equipped and well maintained private lactation space in your building that is NOT a bathroom. Please take a few minutes to help us gather information about this issue by taking the short survey by responding to the link in the email sent today, September 15, 2016. Contact us if you do not receive this email. Contact informaion is below.

By way of background, this issue was brought to our attention by the faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who, with the help of the Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering & Mathematics (SciWomen), set up a lactation room to support women at the university who wish to continue breastfeeding after returning from maternity leave. We applaud their active efforts to support women and want to expand their example to the rest of the university. However, it is not individual departments that are responsible for providing adequate lactation spaces but the university.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, it is now mandatory for employers to provide lactation spaces and break time for employees for up to one year after the birth of a child. According to the law, this space must not be a restroom. Further, employees are permitted to take as much time as they need, whenever they chose to, in order to nurse or express breast milk.

Our initial research shows that many of our peer institutions have developed extensive policies and resources for employees, offering fully stocked lactation spaces equipped with doors that lock, furniture, refrigeration and hospital grade equipment, in numerous locations across their campuses. In many of these cases, they have gone far beyond the minimum stipulations required by law. Some universities have even included the new legal mandate into their building codes for all future construction projects to ensure all new facilities are in compliance. We have not found such efforts at Rutgers.

Our union is strongly committed to creating a positive work environment for women faculty and staff, and we will be pursuing the issue with the administration in order to bring Rutgers into full compliance with the law.

Faculty and teaching assistants/graduate assistants were sent a link to the survey on September 15, 2016. If you are employed at Rutgers as a full-time faculty member, postdoc, graduate student employee, or other category under the Rutgers AAUP-AFT umbrella and you do not see this email, please contact the union office and staff will send you the link.

In Solidarity,
Deepa Kumar
Vice-President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies (SC&I-New Brunswick)

Rutgers AAUP-AFT
11 Stone Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Office phone: (732) 964-1000
Fax: (732) 964-1032
Main union email:

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