In a recent ruling, the NLRB has determined that inflatables such as Scabby the Rat and provocative bannering can be used at "secondary protest" sites. The ruling came after a labor union displayed the 12-ft-tall inflatable rat outside of a trade show in Indiana. The protest in Indiana was orchestrated by a local division of the International Union of Operating Engineers, or IUOE, and the target was Lippert Components Inc. which had used a contractor involved in a labor dispute.
"Secondary protests" are boycotts against companies that hire third party contractors that are in disfavor with the union but who aren't the direct targets. Because Democrats traditionally lean pro-union and Republicans the other way, these types of actions have long divided the NLRB and the Democratic and Republican administrations tasked with appointing the board's members.
The NLRB ruling upheld Obama-era litigation that determined that bannering and inflatable displays like Scabby fall under the union's free speech right and do not violate the National Labor Relations Act's ban on threatening or coercive behavior during union actions.
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