Nonunion firm could face ban on N.Y. work


NEW YORK -- A nonunion construction company that is the target of a union protest campaign, including the raucous rally in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, faces possible disqualification from many future state contracts, officials said yesterday.

Based on evidence provided by several unions, the state Labor Department has charged the company, Roy Kay Inc., with misleading state officials about safety violations and its failure to pay the prevailing wage to its workers.

The accusations concern the Freehold, N.J., company's application for certification for an apprenticeship training program. State officials said they were planning to rescind the company's certification, which would effectively bar Roy Kay from working on many state projects.

Officials at Roy Kay, whose $32.6 million contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build a subway command center stirred Tuesday's demonstrations and violent clashes, disputed the state's charges. A hearing is scheduled for next month.

Union officials said they hoped the MTA would cancel Roy Kay's contract if the Labor Department ruled against the company, though it was not clear whether the transit agency would be willing to switch contractors in the middle of the project.

"Such a decision would probably open the door to their being removed from this project and possibly being barred from all public work in New York," said Paul Fernandes, spokesman for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, which organized Tuesday's turbulent rally against Roy Kay.

Roy Kay vice president David Kay said at a news conference yesterday that the charges the state Labor Department has brought against it, based on information the unions provided, were unfounded. "They are totally 100 percent false," he said, standing in front of the construction site at 54th Street and Ninth Avenue. "There's no justice to it."

Thomas Kelly, an MTA spokesman, said the authority would review any state Labor Department decision to decertify Roy Kay's apprenticeship program.

"We would review the decision and take appropriate action," he said.

Under state law, contractors are not allowed to use apprentices on public projects unless they have a state-certified apprenticeship program. Contractors generally use many apprentices on their sites because apprentices are paid considerably less than journeymen.

State law requires public agencies to award contracts to the lowest bidder, which must pay its workers prevailing wage, although the low bid can be rejected if the company is determined not to be a responsible bidder.

Union officials said that if Roy Kay's apprenticeship program was disqualified for perjury or safety violations, public agencies might then conclude that it was not a responsible company.

Roy Kay, president of the company, said that in its 27 years, the building company has been cited for relatively few safety violations compared with its competitors.

At the news conference his son, David Kay, added, "There is much fury against us because they are scared. We are a legit company. We pay the daily wage. We have excellent workmanship. They can't stop us."

Pub Date: 7/02/98

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