Monday, October 7, 2019
In one of the most blatant attempts to attack the free speech rights of the American Labor Movement, corporate fat cats have filed frivolous lawsuits against the icons of union strikes everywhere.
When employers deny union workers their rights and their fair share of production benefits, unions avail themselves of the most essential and most effective means of protest; their right to strike, to stop work and speak out against the conditions that compelled them to walk off the job.
Over the years, amongst the most effective tools used by organized labor to bring awareness to the issues that forced them to strike, are inflatable characters such as Scabby the Rat and his pal, Fat Cat . These inflatable characters have been fixtures on picket lines for several decades now. They make visible for all to see that big business leaders are engaged in practices that hurt the workers whose labor makes their business successful.
The corporate dominated National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has witnessed the effectiveness of Scabby the Rat and his friends and is flailing away in the courts right now to attempt to ban the use of these inflatables in labor protests.
NLRB general counsel, Peter B. Robb, was appointed to his position in 2017 after a long career advocating for management in labor disputes. Despite the fact that the use of these inflatables has been ruled upon by the courts and by previous NLRB boards many times over the past 30 years, Robb has been issuing balloon-related memorandums and court filings with the goal of upending a long-standing policy that the appearance of these inflatables is a protected form of speech.
In an interview on an AFL-CIO podcast, General Counsel for the Mason Tenders District Council labor organization, Tamir Rosenbloom, explained that in a recent case brought by Mr. Robb in federal court, a judge ruled very strongly in favor of the union's right to use Scabby the Rat and other inflatables as part of their First Amendment rights to free speech.
However, Rosenbloom explained, Mr. Robb is now pursuing a similar case in the Philadelphia region in the hopes that a more business friendly judge will rule against union rights. Mr. Rosenbloom points out that these attacks on free speech rights by the NLRB are not limited to organized labor. "[This] game can be played on any peaceful demonstration in the public square and it literally would mean that the First Amendment is of no help to us anymore."