Policies and industries aside, many women feel they have to choose to have children or have a career. Between the time off for pregnancy and the struggle to find affordable childcare, it can be a difficult choice to make.
Unlike some other industries, dock work has been a male-dominated career for a long time. Many of the policies in place, including those regarding pregnancy, make it difficult for women to have both a career and a child.
Seniority credit denied
One of the workers did not receive seniority credit while she was unable to work while pregnant. For dockworkers, gaining seniority credit allows them to have a more stable schedule and full union membership, so as a new parent, this was especially important.
There is was no argument that pregnancy is an acceptable reason to be out of work. The issue was with the unfair treatment of pregnant women as compared to their male counterparts. For men who are injured on the job or called into military service, they are still able to receive credit for hours they would have worked.
Made senior, but still not safe
Senior status is not something dockworkers attain and have for the duration of their employment. Dockworkers must continue to meet certain requirements to keep their senior status.
The other woman had already achieved senior status when she got pregnant. But, she also faced issues with the union. Pregnant and with a complicated medical history, she was desperate to maintain the benefits of being a senior. She continued to work while she was pregnant and suffered a miscarriage.
Both women and men who are injured on the job or have to leave for military service get seniority credit for the hours they would have worked. The union claims it allows workers pregnancy leave. However, that is not how it plays out. Women who believe they are victims of discrimination should learn about their legal options rather than face what the unions are dishing out.