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Spokane

To keep up with federal law, Spokane City Hall dedicates room for nursing mothers

UPDATED: Wed., May 24, 2017, 1:19 p.m.

People pass a photographic mural in the first floor hall of Spokane City hall on Friday, July 19, 2013, in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
People pass a photographic mural in the first floor hall of Spokane City hall on Friday, July 19, 2013, in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A new room for nursing mothers tucked away on the fourth floor of Spokane’s City Hall was unveiled last week.

“We call it the mother’s room,” said City Councilwoman Candace Mumm.

There are two comfortable chairs and a privacy curtain between them so two mothers can use the room at once. There’s also a small fridge and an attached bathroom.

“It’s federal law that if you have more than 50 employees you have to provide a private place for women who are nursing and who are pumping,” Mumm said.

The room used to be a first-aid room that mothers could use, but there was no privacy and no comfortable place to sit.

“That didn’t seem to me to fit the intent of the letter of the law,” Mumm said. “Now we’re fully compliant.”

The issue came up during the city’s research into gender and racial equity last year, Mumm said. She believed in the issue so much that she used money in her City Council budget to purchase the furniture.

Women have approached her and said they used to pump their breast milk in the bathroom, a locked office or a conference room. “The new moms are very appreciative,” she said.

It just made sense to create the nursing room, Mumm said. “We want to support working moms,” she said. “We want to attract young workers. We have to compete with the corporate environment as well.”

Spokane County doesn’t have a designated nursing room in any of its buildings, but officials have begun looking into the issue, said county spokesman Jared Webley.

One woman in the county’s human resources department nurses her baby in a conference room, and when that’s occupied she uses an office, Webley said.

Staff writer Chad Sokol contributed to this story.



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