The authorities in Lehman Hall refused yesterday to make any official comment upon the story circulated in the Boston papers that twenty cleaning women had been discharged from Widener Library in response to an ultimatum issued by the State Minimum Wage Board. Aside from tacitly confirming these reports, the officials involved made no reply to the storm of protest already aroused over the fact that the University was apparently unwilling to raise the wages of these workers two and one half cents an hour.
Informal investigation has revealed that this dismissal came as part of a definite program of revision of Widener cleaning methods and was merely made more abrupt by the demands of the State Board that Harvard meet the usual scale of office scrubbers. Since the working conditions in Widener are alleged to be superior to those usual in metropolitan office buildings, the University did not feel called upon to meet this scale and met the demands of the board in somewhat startling manner of enclosing an honorable discharge with the salary checks of the women involved. Eleven women were laid off in this fashion in December, nine others having met a similar fate the preceeding month.
As stated in the letter of dismissal the University hopes to be able to rehire these women in other positions and already several of them have been provided for.
In accordance with the original plan for changing the cleaning of the library which the demands of the board made more abrupt, a corps of men has succeeded to the vacant positions.