Nursing Worker Protections to Expand as Carveouts Rattle Nerves
By Diego Areas Munhoz
January 3, 2023
Legislation expanding protections for millions of women who need time and space to pump breast milk at work is making waves in the transportation industry, where its uneven application has angered worker and business advocates alike.
The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, included in the fiscal year 2023 government funding package as an amendment from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), mandates that companies of over 50 employees to provide a private space and certain break times for nursing mothers to express breast milk.
But an 11th-hour compromise eases those requirements for rail and motorcoach operators and exempts air carriers from having to provide those accommodations at all.
Yet the same carveout should’ve applied to bus drivers, said Peter J. Pantuso, president and CEO of the American Bus Association.
Motorcoach operators are the only ones responsible for the vehicle’s movement, he said. Even planned stops can delay passengers’ trips, considering that the time taken to pump may be greater than the scheduled stop time.
“Many of our passengers connect with airlines or they connect with trains or they connect with other bus systems. If they’re charter they’re scheduled to be at a theater at a certain time for tickets,” he said.