October 31, 2014: A New York district judge ruled this week that Scabby the Rat is protected by the First Amendment. So are Fat Cats, inflatable corporate pigs and more. Check out our photo gallery and choose your favorite.
Employers have gone to court to try to deflate Scabby the Rat since he was first introduced by the Bricklayers Union in Illinois in 1990. But judges have repeatedly ruled that Scabby and other inflatable union protest tools are protected free speech.
The latest ruling, by Judge Joseph Bianco of the Eastern District of New York, rejected a claim by an asbestos contractor that using the rat was prohibited by a contract clause banning “disruptive activity”.
But the judge ruled that a protest with an inflatable prop like a rat or fatcat doesn’t fall under the same category of “disruptive activity” like strikes, boycotts, and pickets.
“To hold otherwise would be to prohibit the union from engaging in any speech that is harmful to plaintiff’s business image,” the judge said.
Unions can and will continue to deploy inflatable Rats, Fat-cats, and Corporate Pigs to put the heat on employers who are violating workers’ rights.
Which one is your favorite?
Scabby the Rat, a trailblazer for union protestors.
UPS Teamsters in New York Local 804 have a custom Fat-Cat choking a UPS worker.
Striking telephone workers at Fairpoint in Northern New England take their message about Corporate Fat-cats straight to the boss.
And for that special landlord or white collar employer, there’s always the Cockroach.