US labor unions use Scabby the Rat to represent unfair employers.

Picket Lines, United States

“Not mean enough,” said representatives of the Chicago bricklayers’ union to the owner of Big Sky Balloons and Searchlights in 1990, as they inspected sketches of the inflatable rat they had commissioned. More than two decades later, the meaner model, with long claws, a scabby belly and a snarl, is a fixture at labor disputes across the USA, blown up on the sidewalk outside businesses that hire non-union workers. In the parlance of US unions, a “rat” is an employer who hires non-union workers, and a “scab” is someone who goes to work despite an ongoing strike. The Scabby inflatable provokes intense responses: at least four have been stabbed and one run over by a car.


From the pages of COLORS #88 - Protest.