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Latest News - May 2011

May 31, 2011
Inflatable Rats Meant to Intimidate
Source: The Intelligencer, The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

We wonder how the National Labor Relations Board would react if a company involved in a dispute with a labor union erected a 16-foot-tall inflatable rat outside the union's headquarters.

We suspect the firm would be penalized swiftly for engaging in an "unfair labor practice."

But when the shoe is on the other foot, the NLRB has no problem. Agency officials let it be known last week that union activists will be permitted to display the rats, even if the business being targeted is not involved directly in a labor dispute.

Business groups had complained to the NLRB the practice of inflating the giant rats outside businesses was unnecessarily confrontational and coercive. We think most people would agree. Such a display sends a very clear - and to many people, frightening - message.

Of course, the First Amendment safeguards Americans' right to freedom of speech, even if it is distasteful. The courts have ruled that speech or pronouncements by other means intended to incite violence are not protected, however.

Unions using the rat tactic clearly are trying to intimidate those who don't support them. Again, it would be interesting to see how the NLRB would react to an anti-union rat.



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