By JAMES RUTENBERG and TARA GEORGE
Daily News Staff Writers
Nonunion employees of a construction firm
at the center of Tuesday's massive demonstration said yesterday
they're victims of a harassment campaign by union members, and
many fear for their safety.
Workers at the controversial Roy Kay Inc.
construction site at 54th St. and Ninth Ave. claim union members
picketing the midtown locale have threatened them, taken pictures
of them and recorded their license plate numbers.
The Roy Kay workers would not give their
names, out of fear of retaliation, and they criticized a newspaper
that published pictures showing the faces of the nonunion men.
"One person from this job site has had
threatening calls to his house, threatening his wife and babies,"
one of the workers claimed.
The allegation could not be verified. But
Roy Kay's attorneys have filed a lawsuit asking a Manhattan Supreme
Court judge to bar protesters from picketing the site and threatening
The nonunion men also said they repeatedly
had tried to get into the unions and failed, so they eventually
took nonunion jobs to feed their families.
"They state we're taking food from their
mouths; well, we have our own kids," a construction supervisor
said. "We're paid the prevailing wage, and we get full benefits."
The construction unions - and their giant
inflatable rat - have maintained a presence outside the Roy Kay
site for weeks to protest the award of a $32.6 million contract
for construction of a subway control center to the company.
On Tuesday, tens of thousands of workers
demonstrating outside the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's
headquarters spontaneously broke off and marched toward the site.
Yesterday, pickets outside the site said
they considered the nonunion workers to be "scabs" and
the New Jersey-based Roy Kay to be a "union-buster."
But union organizers said they had no quarrel
with Roy Kay's workers and denied the allegations of harassment.
"Why are we going to intimidate somebody
who's working in there? asked Luis Montalvo, an organizer from
Laborers' Local 79. "We want to organize them. Our dispute
is with the company, not with the workers."
Meanwhile, Gov. Pataki and MTA Chairman Virgil
Conway yesterday said they would make no decision on the status
of the Roy Kay contract until the state Labor Department has completed
its investigation into the company.
The department has accused the company of
lying about safety violations and failing to keep accurate records
on the number of hours worked by apprentices. The agency is due
to make a ruling in August.
Company officials could not be reached for comment.