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150: “An attack on Scabby the Rat is an attack on workers’ right to free speech”

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021

* NLRB yesterday

In a decision issued today in Lippert Components, Inc. 371 NLRB No. 8 (2021), the National Labor Relations Board found that a union did not violate the National Labor Relations Act by displaying a 12-foot inflatable rat with red eyes, fangs, and claws (“Scabby the Rat”) and two large banners, one targeting a neutral employer (Lippert Components), near the public entrance to a trade show. The prior General Counsel had alleged that the display of these items was unlawfully coercive, arguing that the Board should overrule precedent. The Board had earlier issued a notice and invitation to file briefs on that question.

Three members of the Board joined in an opinion dismissing the complaint. In her separate concurrence, Chairman McFerran expressed her belief that the outcome of this case was required by Board precedent. In their separate concurrence, Members Kaplan and Ring agreed that the complaint must be dismissed here to avoid creating a possible conflict with the First Amendment, but expressed disagreement with some aspects of prior precedent. Member Emanuel, dissenting, would have found the banner and rat display to violate the Act.

The decision is here.

* The case was filed against Local 150 of the Operating Engineers. From the union…

Wednesday afternoon, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a 3-1 decision dismissing the Lippert Components lawsuit that sought to limit unions’ use of “Scabby the Rat” and other inflatables in labor disputes.

The case initiated over the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150’s use of an inflatable rat to protest Lippert’s Components at the entrance of a trade show in September 2018. An NLRB administrative law judge dismissed the case in 2019, but former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb intervened, believing that the use of inflatable rats is unlawfully coercive and that NLRB and court precedent should be overturned to restrict their use. Robb, appointed by former President Trump, initiated and revived several lawsuits against unions who had used inflatable rats in strikes and public demonstrations.

Wednesday’s decision upheld Scabby’s longstanding free speech protection, stating that Lippert’s opinion that the display was “embarrassing does not outweigh the First Amendment rights of the union.” Over the past 20 years, federal courts and the NLRB have found that inflatable rats are protected tools of free speech and are afforded First Amendment rights.

“We are pleased with this decision, and have believed since the outset that Scabby’s rights would be affirmed, as they have been time and time again for 20 years,” said James M. Sweeney, President-Business Manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. “An attack on Scabby the Rat is an attack on workers’ right to free speech, and we must all stand united against such attacks. The use of these rats draws public attention to employers’ crimes and mistreatment of their employees, and so it is no surprise that powerful interests would want to ban their use, but we will never stop fighting to protect workers’ voices – or Scabby’s.”

Local 150 pioneered the use of the inflatable rat, commissioning the very first one in 1988. Local 150 member Lou Mahieu was awarded a jacket for submitting the name “Scabby” in a 1989 naming contest, held by the union in its member newspaper.

* Scabby…

Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

51 Comments »
  1. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:16 pm:

    I’m Hardrock, I’m Coco, I’m Joe.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:17 pm:

    “… and… in the end, it was rats and cockroaches that survived, even inflatable ones.”


  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:18 pm:

    (Pointing inflatable) “Look ober dare, fellas, it’s IPI”


  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:20 pm:

    (Pointing inflatable) “Dare he is, Bruce Rauner, get em”


  5. - workingfromhome - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:20 pm:

    “Oh, rats!”


  6. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:23 pm:

    (Pointing inflatable) “Youse tried to cancel me, I cancel you”


  7. - Dysfunction Junction - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:25 pm:

    “You took your first pinch like a man and you learn two great things in your life. Look at me, never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.”


  8. - Moved East - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:25 pm:

    Scabby the inflatable rat, visually demonstrating that unions are often full of hot air.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:26 pm:

    Inflatable rat points out the masonry crumbling across the street, done by non-union bricklayers


  10. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:27 pm:

    “We head dare next, fellas, Wisconsin”


  11. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:28 pm:

    “Yeah, let’s go get lunch somewhere else.”


  12. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:30 pm:

    “Look… See dose unsafe work conditions, that’s a scab sight all right.”


  13. - Techie - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:30 pm:

    We would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you pesky union members!


  14. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:32 pm:

    “Dat, my friends, is da building ware da ILGOP has an office. Dey useda understand, maybe de’ll understand now”


  15. - Shield - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:34 pm:

    Rauner’s All Stars


  16. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:35 pm:

    “Yeah, it does take tree of us to do what one could easily do, what’s it to ya? It’s in the contract, talk to Business Agent, he’s ober dare”


  17. - Anon221 - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:36 pm:

    (Middle rat)- “C’mon…I dare ya…pull my finga (Banned punctuation).”


  18. - Huh? - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:37 pm:

    Bite me.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:37 pm:

    “I’m just saying, dat place ober dare, Dey got real rats, they’ll pop you so fast da air leavin’ ya will whistle”


  20. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:41 pm:

    “Hey, was that Jimmy Cagney?”


  21. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:43 pm:

    “Ober dare, brudders, is a Local 150 worker, doin’ dare ting. It’s beautiful”


  22. - Squints - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:47 pm:

    At Local 150 we protect rats, not women.

    Hopefully, they are complying with the sexual harassments suits filed against their leadership with the same vigor.


  23. - Dotnonymous - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:52 pm:

    Scabby is cool…unless you’re a scab.


  24. - Steve Rogers - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:54 pm:

    Didn’t I see this picture already:

    https://capitolfax.com/2021/07/13/question-of-the-day-3292/


  25. - Big Jer - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:56 pm:

    My first reaction at looking at the picture was “Oh Boy, OW is going to have fun with this one!!” LOL. And out of the first twenty comments, 11 are from OW. He is on fire!!

    Also a hat tip to Cheryl and Dysfunction for their captions!


  26. - Are You Kiddin' Me? - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 2:59 pm:

    LOL @ SR @ 2:54 U R a Bad man…..


  27. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:00 pm:

    The middle rat seems to be saying ‘How you doin’

    One of the many things I miss about downtown is seeing scabby…

    As for a caption.

    “Ed Burke did not like the reminder of how the feds had him on tape”


  28. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:01 pm:

    Also SR, nice…


  29. - Rabid - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:04 pm:

    Halloween decorations go up earlier every year


  30. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:05 pm:

    Scabby the Rat is brought to you by the creators of Squeezy the Python.


  31. - The Dude Abides - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:07 pm:

    @Squints, you sound bitter. Thanks to Rauner the Unions are stronger than ever.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:10 pm:

    “Maybe dey got cheese ober by dare”

    (Humbly tipping cap to - Big Jer -)


  33. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:15 pm:

    - Steve Rogers -… whew. That’s gnawing.

    “Dats usually our corner but someone put up a bouncy house before we go dare”


  34. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:19 pm:

    “Yeah… yeah you… say dat again and I’ll show ya my union bug…”


  35. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:20 pm:

    “150: “An attack on Scabby the Rat is an attack on workers’ right to free speech”

    To attract these rats…follow the law, select the lowest cost prevailing wage contractors and if they happen to be non-union. Boom - the Rats show up.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:22 pm:

    “Oh… sure… no problem. Go *that* way, 4 blocks, make a right, you’ll see The Bean… you’re welcome… thank you, you too”


  37. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:26 pm:

    “Dat’s the Thompson Center. It’s gonna be a water park”


  38. - Huh? - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:43 pm:

    Youse sumting else if youse fees fees are triggered by us.


  39. - Bruce( no not him) - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 3:53 pm:

    Stupid hoomans, they think we’re inflatable.
    That Union breeding program has been an amazing success.


  40. - Huh? - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 4:02 pm:

    “lowest cost prevailing wage contractors”

    No such thing. Contractors bidding on a publicly funded jobs, paying all pay the same wage for a particular labor classification.
    Prevailing wages are determined by the county in which the work occurs.

    Operator union members are paid based in the machine they are operating.


  41. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 4:12 pm:

    The Rat Pack lives on.


  42. - Banish Misfortune - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 5:10 pm:

    Honestly no caption required. Scabby always makes me smile because he’s doing good work. Even more when he’s hanging with his buds.


  43. - Matty - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 6:09 pm:

    Not a caption, so my apologies for breaking rule.

    I hate these damn things wherever a union protest shows up. It’d be one thing if they didn’t continually obstruct the public way (sidewalks, bike lanes, etc), but these folks are so narrowminded they have no regard for the rest of their surroundings. You want to get into a very interesting argument with folks? Bring this up to the picketers and remind them their grievance is compromising the larger community by endangering passersby who inevitably must venture out into a traffic lane. Good times, and I’ll continue to poke the rats.


  44. - Out of Illinois - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 6:16 pm:

    Is it a Chicago City Council meeting or a Democratic party meeting?


  45. - Amalia - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 6:33 pm:

    Diverse rat coalition practices for Thanksgiving parade.


  46. - Todd - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 9:03 pm:

    The Chicago city council will now come to order. . .

    put up many of those and Orland park was the best with the Chief having to give scabby back and a court case that says its first amendment protections


  47. - Blue Dog - Thursday, Jul 22, 21 @ 9:27 pm:

    Hi. I’m shabby the rat. My owner drove me here in a KIA.


  48. - G'Kar - Friday, Jul 23, 21 @ 12:26 am:

    Hi, my name is Larry, this is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl. We’ll do anything for a buck.


  49. - Nearly Normal - Friday, Jul 23, 21 @ 7:36 am:

    Illinois created Scabby the Rat and pals have come a long way since their creation circa 1990 in Plainfield by Big Sky Balloons. Be sure to buy Illinois made products.


  50. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Jul 23, 21 @ 9:45 am:

    ===It’d be one thing if they didn’t continually obstruct the public way (sidewalks, bike lanes, etc)===

    Do you know for a fact that Scabby was blocking the sidewalk in this case?

    Most municipalities have easements and parkways.
    The lawsuit specifically said Scabby was “was unlawfully coercive.” Funny how Lippert Components chose the more difficult thing to prove as their hill to die on.

    Usually unions are aware of local ordinances and try not to get on the bad side of their municipalities, I know, being the veteran of pickets, we get the lecture every time beforehand about what we can and can’t legally do.


  51. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Jul 23, 21 @ 12:43 pm:

    Caption?
    “We coerced you to look.”


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