Rat Goes Splat As Pact Is Signed


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 Transportation Authority.

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 years.

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.

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