Washington, DC – Iron Workers (IW) General President Eric Dean was named one of 2017 ENR Top 25 Newsmakers for his role in establishing a groundbreaking paid maternity leave program.
The program is the first of its kind in the building trades and provides qualified pregnant ironworkers up to six months of paid leave and up to six weeks postpartum.
The tragic story of an ironworker woman who had miscarried due to physically demanding work during pregnancy inspired Eric Dean to work with the IMPACT Contractor Co-Chair and CEO of Ben Hur Construction Bill Brown to introduce a paid maternity leave program.
“When Eric Dean heard the ironworker woman’s story at the Women Build Nations conference, he took immediate action not only to keep the ironworker women safe during pregnancy, but also to give them time after birth to take care of their babies,” says IW General Organizer Safety/Diversity Vicki O’Leary.
The IW leadership hopes that the program will not only keep ironworker women safe but also improve retention. It’s an adjunct to the IMPACT Off-the-Job Accident program, which provides financial support for ironworkers while recovering from an injury that occurred off the job site.
“We are very proud to be an agent of change in the industry,” says Eric Dean. “It’s about time we make diversity and inclusion a priority. The maternity leave program was a big step for ironworker women but we are now exploring other initiatives to improve diversity and retention.”
“It’s an investment because we want our well-trained ironworker women to come back to work after pregnancy,” says Bill Brown.
*** The Iron Workers (IW) represents 130,000 members in North America who work in construction on bridges; structural steel; ornamental, architectural, and miscellaneous metals; rebar; and in shops. IMPACT is an ironworker-contractor partnership designed to provide a forum for ironworkers and their contractors to address mutual concerns and develop strategies for solutions.