Discrimination charges made by the Boston Action Group (BAG) against the Wonder Bread Bakery in Dorchester were denied yesterday by Harold R. Webster, manager of the plant. Despite Webster's denial, BAG will continue a selective patronage campaign against the bakery.
Webster stated that the employment policies of the bakery have long been conducted "entirely on the basis of merit." The small number of Negroes working at the bakery, currently about three per cent of those employed, is due to the "relatively few Negro applicants," he said.
Webster said that the bakery did not hire 12 Negroes within the month given them by BAG because "we had no openings at the time." The bakery had hired three Negroes by the last meeting with BAG, he added, and was considering other applicants.
In reply to Webster's statements, Noel Day, a member of the BAG steering committee, said that the bakery started advertising as an "equal opportunity employer" only four weeks ago, and that was only after two meetings with BAG representatives. According to Day, these advertisements, which solicited driver-salesmen, stipulated "college graduates preferred."
Of the three Negroes the bakery has recently hired, Day claimed, one has already been discharged on grounds of "incompetence." Another is a former player with the Boston Patriots who has been employed to do sales promotion and public relations work.
In answer to rumors that the bakery has a small job turn-over which makes job openings infrequent, Day said "this may well be." "Our position is that equal opportunity employers have an obligation beyond the willingness to hire any applicant. Past experience throughout the country has shown that Negroes shrink from applying to companies with a history of discrimination."