Leaders of the District's top labor organization voted yesterday not to support efforts by another group of union officials to overturn through a ballot initiative recently approved reductions in the city's unemployment benefits.
"We believe that an all-out political campaign in support of this initiative is premature at this time," the executive board of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, said in a resolution.
Another group, The Food and Allied Trades Council, which respresents 42,000 D.C. hotel and food-service industry employes, is pushing for the initiative as a way to regain the benefits.
However, the Metropolitan Council said it wants to wait and see what alternatives are put forward by a city commission that was formed recently to study ways to correct the nearly $60 million deficit in the District's unemployment compensation fund.
Joslyn N. Williams, metropolitan council president, said the labor body, which is the official AFL-CIO-sanctioned federation for the Washington area and represents 90,000 District workers, is urging its members not to take part in the petition efforts. Petitioners would have to collect about 14,000 signatures before the issue could be placed on the ballot.
Williams said such an initiative might be necessary later if the study commission does not come up with a solution that helps restore benefits to their original levels.
Ron Richardson, secretary-treasurer of Local 25 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union and a key organizer of the initiative drive, said yesterday that he was disappointed by the council's action but that his group will continue to push ahead.
Richardson said former D.C. Auditor Matthew Watson has been hired to help get the initiative on the ballot and to look into alternatives that would provide the revenue needed to raise benefits.
Watson said the initiative may not get on the ballot until May 1984 because of complex technical requirements that have to be met.
The change in the city's unemployment compensation law, which became effective March 17, cut the maximum number of weeks that jobless workers can collect benefits from 34 to 26 and sharply increased unemployment taxes on local businesses, which have complained that the city's benefits are among the highest in the country.