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Resolutions & Amendments

37th International Convention - Chicago, IL (2006)

Establishing a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Through Contract Negotiations

Resolution No. 31
37th International Convention
August 7-11, 2006
Chicago, IL

Years of research have detailed the wide range of views and irrefutable evidence that breastfeeding provide tremendous advantages and benefits for children, mothers, families and our society in the following areas: health, nutritional markers, developmental outcomes, psychological status, economic expenditure, and environmental impact; and

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization along with other health organizations have recommended exclusive breastfeeding and human milk for infants for a minimum of six months.  AAP goes further and notes that infants weaned before 12 months of age should not receive cow's milk feeding but should receive iron-fortified infant formula; and

Employers would benefit significantly if they were to support the decision of mothers to breastfeed as they return to work, taking into account the lower health care cost in addition to lower absenteeism, which fosters a sound morale and a quicker return to the workplace; and

Breastfeeding and expressing breast milk does not impede an employee from carrying out the principal functions of her job with a supportive system in place.  Only when the work environment is dismissive can she be viewed as someone now incapable of performing with excellence those same functions; and

The needs of women choosing to return to work are basic, but essential in scope: a convenient, private location that is safe and sanitary, other than a restroom, for breastfeeding and expressing breast milk; a convenient, clean and safe water supply/system within the workplace for washing ones’ hands and rinsing the breast pump equipment located in the private location specifically for breastfeeding and expressing breast milk; a convenient, hygienic refrigerator in the private location for storing the mother's breast milk; and a scheduling system for flexible breaks and the structuring of work patterns that permit time to express breast milk or breastfeed; and

Breastfeeding mothers should not be penalized financially for taking breaks to breastfeed or express breast milk during her tour of duty; and

The environmental impact will be less as a result of not having to dispose of formula cans and bottles, and the on-going energy demands for products, and transportation of those products; and

Healthy People 2010, a national preventive initiative, has set for the specific goal of increasing the proportion of mothers who breastfeed their babies and the duration of the breastfeeding period speaks to the improving the health of all citizens; and

AFSCME through its members can continue to be at the forefront of justice, equity, compassion and change in the lives of all those who cherish life and liberty.

That AFSCME International Union, through its councils, locals, and retiree chapters at this 37th International Union Convention, urges negotiators to consider accommodations for employees who breastfeed.
SUBMITTED BY: Deborah Courtney, President and Delegate
Karon Gary, Secretary and Delegate
AFSCME Local 2401, Council 20
Washington, DC