How A Rat Balloon From Suburban Chicago Became A Union Mascot

Source: Max Green, WBEZ, March 8, 2017

Large inflatable-rats, with their claws out and lips curled into a snarl, have become a common sight on picket lines throughout the Chicago area. The balloons, which range in size from six- to 25-feet tall, are usually gray or yellow. And almost all look like they are ready to attack. The rat balloons prompted Curious Citizen Phillip Williams to ask: How did balloons become a part of union strikes? When do they decide to bring out the rat? The rat balloons, nicknamed “Scabby,” started in the Chicago area in 1990 and have grown into a worldwide symbol for union strikes. But the balloons aren’t without controversy. From the picket line to the courtroom, employers have tried to snuff out Scabby many times.