New York Daily News

A Union Of Protection


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 project.

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 79.

"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.

Return to

All original work Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.