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Civil Rights Agency Investigates Two More Middle South Utilities

By James M. Fallows

A federal civil rights agency has completed an investigation of the hiring practices of two Southern utility companies in which Harvard invests.

The results show that the Arkansas Power and Light Company has a work force that is 4.2 per cent black, and that the Louisiana Power and Light Company has 4.5 per cent black employment.

For both companies, the report also shows that most of the black workers are in jobs classified as semi-skilled, unskilled, or custodial.

Confidential Reports

The statistics-like similar ones released last week on the Mississippi Power and Light Company-come from confidential reports filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Washington. Unlike the Mississippi figures, however, the Arkansas and Louisiana reports have been revised to reflect current 1970 employment totals.

All three of the power companies are subsidiaries of the Middle South Utilities company, in which Harvard owns stock worth some $12.5 million. Harvard's Treasurer, George F. Bennett '33, now serves as a Middle South director.

Bonds In All Three

The University also holds another $4.5 million in bonds from the three subsidiaries. Harvard's Arkansas P and L bonds are worth $2,043,802; its Louisiana P and L bonds, $1,912,500; and its Mississippi P and L bonds, $590,000.

In releasing the Arkansas and Louisiana figures, an EEOC official said that "it is difficult for us to avoid the conclusion that the companies are guilty of severe discrimination against Negro employees."

No Hearings

But he said that neither of the two companies has ever been called before the EEOC for a formal discrimination complaint hearing.

Last year, Mississippi P and L faced an EEOC hearing on charges of "discriminatory job assignment, discriminatory hiring, discriminatory promotions, and segregated facilities." According to the hearing record, the case was dismissed after "successful conciliation with the company."

The confidential EEOC records also show that Middle South and two

unnamed subsidiaries have several times failed to comply with Federal laws requiring progress reports on minority hiring.

Officials of the Arkansas and Lousiana P and L companies declined to comment yesterday on the EEOC hiring charts. The public relations office of Middle South also deferred comment.

NAACP Protests

Meanwhile, civil rights groups in Mississippi have protested statements made by the Mississippi P and L management.

After EEOC reports released last week showed that Mississippi P and L had a 4.5 per cent black work force, the company's vice president for personnel, C. E. Jones, defended its hiring practices.

Jones pointed out that Mississippi P and L was "working closely" with several black colleges in the area, that it had started a special program to train black workers, and that it had offered jobs to qualified blacks, 12 of whom had turned the jobs down last year.

Alex Waites, a regional director of the NAACP, said yesterday in Jackson that Jones' comments were "totally misleading." He challenged the claim that Mississippi P and L had started a training program, and he accused the company of bad faith in its work with local colleges.

"They say they're working closely with the colleges-what that means is that when they need a typist, they make a show of trying to get some graduate of Jackson State to come work for them." Waites said.

According to another NAACP representative, most of the blacks who turned down Mississippi P and L jobs last year were college graduates who were offered low-paying clerical positions.

Jones was not available in his office yesterday to reply.

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