Sterling Heights Stellantis Plant to add more lactation rooms after federal investigation
STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (FOX 2) - The Stellantis plant in Sterling Heights will add more lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers and make changes to its break policy following a federal investigation.
It began with complaints of inadequate access including a plant worker who was allegedly expressing breast milk on the factory floor, after being denied access to the plant’s existing breastfeeding rooms.
The worker's group Women in Automotive praised the news.
"It’s awesome. It’s great for the mothers to be able to offer the ability to breastfeed to their babies without having to stay at home," said Robin Wilson, one of the group's board members.
The U.S. Department of Labor says it found the worldwide maker of Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles forced nursing mothers to wait up to 20 minutes for an available room or otherwise express milk in other places, like the community shower.
At least 19 nursing moms shared access to just four, one-person lactation rooms at the Sterling Heights Stellantis plant.
The probe also found what the feds call an improper policy of requiring nursing moms to turn in a doctor’s note along with the baby’s birth certificate in order to get into a nursing area.
The Labor Department says those requirements stopped the one worker from expressing milk when needed.
"A lot of the answers for women have generally been in the past, just use the restroom, or go find a storage closet, or something along those lines," Wilson said. "And that’s not necessarily adequate. I mean what happens if somebody accidentally walks in on you."
Stellantis released a statement to FOX 2 saying:
"Employee health and wellness is a top priority for Stellantis. We continually assess the need for additional dedicated lactation rooms in each of our locations. We are committed to providing a private, comfortable place for women to express milk."
Many groups representing women in the auto industry say overall nursing moms have come a long way in their fight for better access.
"They just had to stay home for the longest time after they gave birth to make sure that they could if they chose to breastfeed, that they can provide those nutrients to their infant for that amount of time," Wilson said. "And now they have the option to provide that to their child, without having to go without a paycheck."
FOX 2 contacted the UAW to see if any complaints or investigations were held, but have not received a response.