Union Plus offers a variety of hardship benefits to union members and our families, including grants for eligible union members who participate in certain Union Plus programs. An expansion of hardship benefits took effect on July 1, 2021. The trustees for the AFL-CIO Mutual Benefit Fund updated hardship grant eligibility for job loss, furlough, strike, disability, hospital and disaster relief to have a greater positive impact on union families. The updates include increased grant amounts after shorter eligibility timelines, and the grants are now three-per-lifetime, increased from one-per-lifetime.
Paul and Sara Ramirez are Union Plus Mortgage holders who qualified for strike benefits when they endured one of the most challenging periods of their careers together. Both are UAW members and are general laborers at the same General Motors plant. In the fall of 2019, they went on strike for nearly six weeks with their UAW brothers, sisters and friends. “We lost two incomes right off the bat,” Paul recalled.
Faced with new financial challenges, the Ramirezes were grateful that they had chosen to finance their new home through the Union Plus Mortgage Program a few years before, since their mortgage came with a payment assistance program called Mortgage Assistance.
“I hadn’t given [the Union Plus Mortgage Assistance Program] a second thought until the strike,” Paul said. The Union Plus Mortgage Assistance Program provides interest-free loans and grants to help union members make mortgage payments when they have disabilities or are unemployed, furloughed, locked out or on strike. Eligible members must have had a Union Plus mortgage for at least a year.
Mortgage Assistance paid the Ramirezes’ mortgage for one month, and they also received a grant to offset other expenses. They made sure their fellow union members knew where to check for benefits. “We were very outspoken about Union Plus helping us out,” they emphasized.
Explore grant updates and eligibility online at UnionPlus.org/Hardship.