While Tom and Jerry have been beloved by America’s youth for years, their feline and rodent brethren are currently being admonished by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In a memorandum recently released by the NLRB general counsel’s office the Board recommended that the inflatable animals that have become commonplace during union strikes should be considered illegal forms of secondary picketing. The NLRB’s memo mentioned a demonstration this past December in which a local Chicago union invoked the use of the ten-foot tall feline affectionately referred to as “Fat Cat.” The inflatable cat, along with his cohort “Scabby the Rat,” have long been used by labor union workers during strikes to depict employers and management. In its recent memo, the NLRB argued that the ten-foot tall cat, depicted strangling a construction worker, is the “functional equivalent” of a picket sign and recommended that the Region 13 Director take a stand against what it views as an unlawful form of picketing. While the parties involved in this latest demonstration settled their claims out of court, this issue would appear to be one that the Board is taking seriously.
Ryan Guerin is an attorney in the Firm’s Labor and Employment & Business Litigation Practice Groups. If you have any questions or concerns about this issue or any other matter, please contact Ryan directly at 813-223-1099.