By TOM ROBBINS
Daily News Staff Writer
Friday, October 29, 1999
With a loud hiss, a towering 14-foot inflatable
rat sank slowly to the pavement outside a West Side construction
site yesterday, marking the end of an often bitter labor campaign
against a nonunion builder.
No need to call the exterminator; these giant
rats are history.
For nearly two years, the huge rubber rodent
stood at Ninth Ave. and W. 54th St., flashing its leering, buck-toothed
grin across the street, where Roy Kay Inc. of Freehold, N.J.,
is building a $33 million rail control center for the Metropolitan
But amid cheers and applause from all sides
yesterday, the air was let out of the rat as the company signed
contracts with 15 craft unions - something it had resisted for
Edward Malloy, president of the Building
and Construction Trades Council, said that under the agreement
all 200 of Roy Kay's workers will become union members. The company
also agreed to withdraw a federal lawsuit against the unions.
The campaign against Roy Kay Inc. was the
biggest effort in recent years by the building trade unions and
included a traffic-snarling protest by 40,000 hardhats in June
1998 outside the MTA's midtown offices.
As he stood outside his work site yesterday,
surrounded by some 50 union officials, company owner LeRoy Kay,
wearing a blue suit and a large diamond tie pin with his initials,
seemed a little nervous. "I feel good. It's a good day,"
was all he said.
"This is a huge victory for the unions
and their members," said Joseph Speziale, business manager
of Laborers Local 79.