Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Rat Spat

The Supreme Court has been asked by the city of Fairfield, OH, to overturn a lower court ruling which permits a large inflatable rat to be, er, inflated and exhibited about anywhere the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers wish to put it. A rat writ, so to speak. It is a union protest rat erected outside companies that are engaged against the union in NLRB organizing campaigns.

Now, the machinists and aerospace workers aren't the only ones engaged in a rat spat. An NLRB labor judge ruled in another case that the inflatable rat belonging to the Laborers Eastern Region Organizing Fund constituted illegal picketing by the union. The union has appealed that decision to the full NLRB. And yet another union, Local 78 of the Asbestos, Lead, and Hazardous Waste Laborers, has a fleet of six inflatable rats in three sizes -- 15, 20 and 30 feet. A rat pack, a rat regatta, a rat roundup, a rat ramification, a rat ream, a rat roster, a rat rodeo, a rat raid, a rat ration, a rat rage, rat rhetoric, a rat reich, a rat rant, a rat rising, a rat risk, a rat rite, a rat ruckus, a rat rhubarb, a rat rave, a rat roost, a rat row . . . one might say.

Union spokesman Richard Weiss:
We use the rat to call public attention to an issue that otherwise would be very difficult to get our message out. Even in New York City, a 30-foot inflatable rat does stop people and call their attention to something going on there.
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