By TOM ROBBINS
Daily News Staff Writer
The nonunion contractor at the center of
last week's massive labor rally has turned to a minority construction
coalition with a reputation for violence for security help.
New Jersey-based Roy Kay Inc. hired members
of Akbar's Community Service, a Brooklyn construction workers'
group, to supply security guards for its embattled West Side construction
Akbar's has long been one of the most active
of the so-called "coalitions" that target construction
sites demanding jobs. The group has been cited for violence in
numerous past incidents; several years ago, its members were involved
in two shootings.
Group leader Akbar Allah, formerly known
as Derrick Ford, has served two prison sentences for gun possession.
Early last month, in a tense face-off between
protesting union supporters and coalition members, about 40 members
of Akbar's group appeared at the W. 54th St. site where Roy Kay
Inc. is constructing a $33 million project for the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority with nonunion labor.
The show of force came one day after a rally
of 4,000 union members, said Michael Hellstrom of Laborers Local
"The next day, Akbar came in with his
guys to show strength on Roy Kay's side," Hellstrom said.
Akbar acknowledged the face-off, but said
he is now trying to steer clear of the situation.
"To show support for Roy, we came in
with two vans," he said. "I didn't bring no guns. And
after that ruckus, I backed off because I didn't want to be seen
as a strong-arm guy for Roy," he said.
Akbar, 44, said he has worked with Roy Kay,
owner of the firm, for 13 years since first encountering him at
a construction project at Brooklyn College. He said his group
provides security guards for all of the firm's New York-area projects.
In addition, about a dozen members of his group have construction jobs with Roy Kay Inc. Two are at the 54th St. site, he said.
A Roy Kay Inc. representative at the West Side site confirmed that some members of Akbar's group are working there, but declined to speak for attribution.
On Tuesday, as many as 40,000 union demonstrators staged a traffic-snarling, sometimes violent march and rally outside
MTA headquarters to protest Roy Kay's contract.
Building trade officials said the firm has
a history of safety violations and provides substandard benefits to workers.
Akbar accused unions of attempting to make him an issue in the dispute.
"They're making me a threat, but I'm
not," he said. "Now it's the unions trying to
be gangsters, acting like Bogart."
Security guard contracts often are doled
out= to coalition groups by contractors both as
a means of satisfying job demands and to buy protection against other groups, authorities say.
Although some groups press legitimate demands to hire minority workers, as many as 100 others have turned the tactic into a cynical hustle, according to prosecutors.
According to Brooklyn federal prosecutors, mobsters in Coney Island used threats of disruption by Akbar's group against a home builder to help collect $400,000 in shakedown payments.
Akbar was not charged in the case, but he acknowledged that his group won the security contract on the site.