Labor's use of giant rat deemed legal

WASHINGTON - The labor movement's giant inflatable rat is legal, even at demonstrations in front of secondary employers, ruled the National Labor Relations Board May 26.

In a case involving Sheet Metal Workers Local 15 and Brandon Regional Medical Center - which hired below-wage non-union temps to build its addition years ago - the board voted 3-1 that using the rat on a flatbed truck parked in public more than 100 feet from the hospital entrances, is kosher, along with the leafleting of passing patients.

When the case first came up, the board ruled in 2006 that other parts of the union's demonstration - including a skeleton and a coffin - were illegal.  The case wound up in court and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals first ruled the funeral was legal. It later said the rat was too and sent the case back down to the NLRB to finish the job.

"The determinative question as to whether union activity at a secondary site violates" labor law "is whether it constitutes intimidation or persuasion," said the board. "Union protest activity that is merely persuasive is lawful even when the object of the activity is to induce the secondary to cease doing business with a primary employer," in this case, the contractor that brought in the temp workers to help build the hospital addition.

"Protest whose impact on a secondary employer owes more to intimidation than persuasion" is not lawful, the board warned.  The rat, it said, is not intimidating.

 

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  • That big rat is pretty effective! I'm glad to hear it's been certified legal. Without President Obama's appointments to the NLRB, this would have gone against us!
    --jim lane

    Posted by jim lane, 06/01/2011 11:14am (3 years ago)

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