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Housing-aid fund negotiated for Boston hotel workers.

More than 3,000 employees of 13 Boston hotels were covered by settlements that established a fund to aid employees in purchasing homes or renting apartments. An official of Local 26 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees said that housing was the top issue in the negotiations because 98 percent of the members' families did not earn the $60,000 a year needed to buy a median priced home, and 78 percent did not earn the $32,000 a year needed to pay the monthly rent on a median priced apartment.

The fund, accumulated through an employer payment of 5 cents for each hour worked by the employees, will be administered by a joint committee that will disburse the money in the form of loans and grants. The local plans to seek to expand the available money for loans by also drawing from the pension fund covering the employees. The parties agreed not to begin the housing-aid plan until legislated changes in Federal Labor law assure the legality of the joint housing fund. If this does not occur within 18 months, the accrued money will be shifted into the existing health and welfare fund and used for other benefits.

According to the AFL-CIO , this was the first time that collective bargainers established a joint trust fund for providing employee housing. The Federation did indicate that some union contracts with mining companies had provisions for providing housing for employees, but not through a trust fund.

Other terms of the new 3-year labor contracts included wage increases totaling about 16 percent (according to the union, 60 percent of the employees had been receiving $7.35 an hour, the lowest rate in the previous contract); establishment of an education fund to finance English language instruction, a literacy program, and college scholarships; increased employer financing of pensions; provision for voter registration of employees to be conducted in the hotels; and a reduction to 15, from 16, in the number of rooms an employee must clean during a work shift.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Mar 1, 1989
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