Union protest hero Scabby the rat survives Trump-era legal challenge

“Scabby” lives on.

The giant inflatable rat—a beloved union mark and a ubiquitous sight on picket lines to signal labor disputes with a nearby company—has escaped the threat of catastrophe from the National Labor Relations Board, which ruled that “the red-eyed 12 Foot’s inflatable rat “, fangs and claws “and its contemporaries fall within the scope of protected speech.

Courts have long held under a Obama-era precedent that the scabby rat may be used in public as long as the balloon animal and similar protest signs do not obstruct the entrance or rights of way.

but below Donald TrumpPeter Robb, his appointed general counsel on the board of administration, argued that the demonstration at a non-strike work site was “unlawfully coercive” and did not constitute free speech.

Labor groups argued that the decision to ban scabies could not only eliminate sizable inflatables, but also have an overall chilling effect on First Amendment rights in labor protests.

In three-to-decision on July 21, the board sided with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, which kept Scabby outside the Indiana RV trade show in 2018 after McAllister Machinery was accused of unfair labor practices.

The union was opposing Lippert Components, a supplier of McAllister, which Mr. Robb argued was a third party unrelated to the dispute and the victim of its “confrontation, intimidation and coercion” tactics.

“Courts have consistently considered banners and inflatable rats to be in the realm of intimidation rather than within the scope of protected speech,” wrote board chair Lauren McFerran. She was joined by two Republicans in her decision.

“In fact, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that other confrontational – and far more aggressive – forms of expressive activity are under the protection of the First Amendment,” wrote two Republican appointees to the board.

“Certainly, if the First Amendment protects this conduct” – including flag burning and other demonstrations – “prohibiting stationary banners rocking an inflatable rat and a secondary employer would raise significant constitutional concerns,” he wrote.

The local 150 – who pioneered the use of scabby rats – praised the decision.

Local 150 communications director Ed Maher said the banning of scabby was Mr Robb’s “pet project, and his arguments have been debunked everywhere.” told CBS News.

President Joe Biden fired Mr Robb after he refused to resign after his inauguration on 20 January.

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