In May, working moms welcomed a new overtime rule published by the Department of Labor that would give millions of them the opportunity to receive additional overtime compensation or a higher salary. The rule would also require employers to provide reasonable break time and a private space (not a restroom) for women to pump breast milk. This would make it easier for mothers to continue breastfeeding after returning to work after giving birth.
Many employers have already revised their policies to reflect the new rule, but it wasn't going to be a legal requirement for them to do so until Dec. 1. However, that date has now passed and it's currently in a state of limbo due to a federal judge in Texas putting it on hold following a lawsuit filed by business groups and states who oppose expansion of the overtime laws.
Middle-class workers — not just working mothers — would benefit from the new overtime rule via more money in their pockets or more free time, a positive legacy from the Obama administration for millions of Americans. But Obama's successor, President-elect Donald Trump, soon-to-be top dog at the Departments of Labor and Justice, could do everything in his power to crush the new rules. After all, he insisted last year that wages are too high.
Working, nursing mothers are not a subsection of the population that can rely on Trump's support by any stretch of the imagination. In 2015, an attorney claimed that Trump had an "absolute meltdown" and called her "disgusting" when she requested a break from a 2011 deposition to pump breast milk.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that working mothers (nursing or otherwise) aren't a priority for Trump. Based on his campaign trail and his belief that parenting is women's work, can we really expect him to increase support to working families or introduce paid maternity leave that reflects modern families or improve the day care system or take steps to close the gender pay gap?
Another Trump-shaped blow to mothers concerns the Affordable Care Act, which Trump pledged to repeal. This law gives mothers, mothers-to-be and their kids crucial access to health care and includes several provisions supporting breastfeeding as a lifesaving and money-saving health measure. Under the act, insurance companies are required to provide lactation support and consultation, which can make a huge difference to moms unsure about how to breastfeed, use a pump and overcome common feeding issues. It also makes it mandatory for insurance companies to pay for breast pumps, which undoubtedly makes it easier for mothers to keep up their milk supply after going back to work.
A mom shouldn't have to choose between breastfeeding her baby and going back to work to earn money to support her family. But in the current political climate, that's the choice far too many of them are faced with. Four years under a Trump administration is certainly not going to improve matters.
If you're concerned about the impact Donald Trump will have on the lives of working mothers and their children, you can take action to protect and improve their rights. Support local groups who advocate for change at local and state levels. Add your voice to the outcry against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and help ensure moms can rely on these crucial protections.
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