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OBU Rejects Statement Responding to Demands, Will Hold Rally Today

By Deborah B. Johnson

Representatives of the Organization for Black Unity (OBU) yesterday termed an Administration list of responses to black students' demands of last month "merely a flowery restatement of the status quo vis a vis black employment on Harvard's campus and black participation on Harvard's construction program."

Archibald Cox, Samuel Williston Professor of Law, and L Gard Wiggins, administrative vice-president of the University, met with black students at noon yesterday and gave them a position paper and point-by-point list explaining what Harvard has done in response to their demands. The students said the reply was unsatisfactory and asked for a further response, which Wiggins said last night would probably be ready by today.

OBU is planning a rally in the Yard at noon today, and has asked in a statement released yesterday afternoon, "that all black students in the area and all interested black community residents attend."

The Administration's point-by-point reply stated that:

Harvard agrees with the black students that the category of painter's helper should be abolished. "The students had asked that all helpers be reclassified as painters, but the Administration said that not all would be automatically promoted. A new apprenticeship program will be open to those former helpers who wish to join. The Administration will ask the Contractors Association of Boston (3 representative for black contractors) to appoint a three-man committee to review the qualifications of present painter's helpers and recommend changes in their status.

Harvard will establish an apprenticeship training program, and is presently negotiating with the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission to set one up. The black students had asked for such a program to be established immediately. Harvard agreed with the students that the painters and helpers entering the program would not have their pay cut.

Harvard will pay those completing the training program "the pay for journeymen painters fixed by the applicable collective bargaining agreement." The students had asked that the pay be "com-parable to that received by outside contracted painters." The Administration said that it could not pay outside rates because, "the same thing would have to be done for journeymen in all other crafts." Universities almost always pay their maintenance crews less than outside rates, the statement said.

In response to the students' demand that a black man be promoted to crew chief, Harvard has appointed a black helper to the post of assistant foreman in Buildings and Grounds. No black helpers are eligible for promotion by the seniority system on which Harvard presently works.

Harvard cannot employ 20 per cent black workers in all construction projects as demanded by black students. The University will, however, investigate the possibility of including clauses pertaining to more black employees in future contracts.

Harvard has notified the Contractors' Association of Boston of available subcontracts on present and future construction.

OBU stated yesterday. "At no point does the University's response deal with concrete commitments to the necessary structural changes in principles, methodology and systems which would be necessary to achieve the goals set forth in the OBU demands."

An Administration statement released late last night replied, "The University regrets the failure to find a basis for a common approach to the problems of increasing black and other minority employment on construction projects. We are convinced that our interests are the same as OBU on these questions, and will therefore persist in seeking a basis for agreement."

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