The Complete History Of The Ugly Inflatable Rats Used In Union Protests

chicago scab rats strike

Photo: Flickr – samuelalove

Part publicity stunt, part call to action and part insult, inflatable, scary-looking rats are utilized by frustrated unions to shame contractors or employers into using only union labour.”Scabby the Rat” can be traced back to Plainfield, Illinois, where Big Sky Balloons And Searchlights originally crafted a rat for a striking Chicago union in 1990.

Nowadays, the inflatable symbol can be seen all across the country.

The rat is by far the most popular animal used, probably for its dual use as a piece of street theatre and a metaphor for the scabs they despise. But there are also reports of reptiles and bedbugs — a little variety to enhance the message, perhaps.

Chicago, IL

New York, NY

New York, NY

San Francisco, CA

New York, NY

Cambridge, MA


New York, NY

Boston, MA

Washington, D.C.

New York, NY

Pig and rat combo in New York, NY

Inflatable rats can make for tough working conditions. Now check out...

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