Federal Judge Overrules Trump’s NLRB, Says Use Of Inflatable Rat Is Protected By 1st Amendment

The labor movement just got a big win over the Trump administration.

Bloomberg Law reports:

“A rotating menagerie of inflatable rats and an inflatable cockroach can continue to stand outside a trio of Staten Island grocery stores as part of a union’s protest, a federal judge ruled.

The National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces U.S. labor laws, had asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction that would put an end to a monthslong protest by a New York construction union. The labor organization is speaking out against the use of nonunion labor in the building of a new ShopRite grocery store.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis denied the request July 1, siding with LIUNA affiliate Construction & General Building Laborers Local 79.

‘As a threshold matter, the court notes that Local 79’s “peaceful use of stationary, inflatable rats and a cockroach to publicize a labor protest is protected by the First Amendment,”‘ Garaufis wrote in his decision.

The judge went a step further, warning the NLRB that a federal court enjoining expressive conduct would be ‘untenable’ and ‘raise serious constitutional concerns.’

Union attorney Tamir Rosenblum said Local 79 agreed with the decision and found it ‘really well-reasoned.’

An NLRB representative couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, a Trump administration appointee, is seeking a reinterpretation of federal labor laws that in certain cases would classify the use of inflatables, including the iconic Scabby the Rat, as ‘unlawful coercion” of businesses that don’t directly employ protesting workers and overrule First Amendment considerations.’

For the rest of the story, visit Bloomberg Law here.

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