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How The Rat Blew Up

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How The Rat Blew Up

How The Rat Blew Up

How The Rat Blew Up

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/943288148/943350688" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The rat being inflated and installed in lower Manhattan by District Council 16 of the Cement and Concrete Workers on November 18, 2020. Amanda Aronczyk hide caption

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Amanda Aronczyk

The rat being inflated and installed in lower Manhattan by District Council 16 of the Cement and Concrete Workers on November 18, 2020.

Amanda Aronczyk

Maybe you've seen them around some bigger towns and cities: Giant inflatable rats with red eyes, and sharp teeth, gross-looking scabs on their belly, standing up on their hind legs with their claws out. Unions put them out in front of businesses they're fighting with. Which is why Scabby the rat has been spotted outside stores, in front of factories — and even on HBO.

The rats have a name — Scabby — and a weird history. They started as suits. But recently, Scabby has also been in the courts. The National Labor Relations Board is trying to limit what they consider aggressive union tactics, and the question is whether Scabby counts as one. On today's show: the rise — and possible fall — of Scabby the Rat.

Thanks to Rebecca Kolins Givan, Associate Professor at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations; Mark Gaston Pearce, former NLRB Chairman and Executive Director of the Workers Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center; Joe Scopo, head organizer of District Council 16 of the Cement and Concrete Workers; Wally Zimolong of Zimolong Law; Dale Pierson and Ed Maher of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150.

Music: "Parisian Jaunt," and "Greetings Programs."

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