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    :: Thursday, October 13, 2005 ::

    Inflatable rats' future at labor demonstrations in question - AP Wire, Akron Beacon Journal, OH
    The Operating Engineers Local 150, a union that covers parts of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, still has a balloon it displayed in the first known use of the inflatable rat. It was designed by friends of a union member who worked in the movie industry.

    Since then, the inflatable rats have become fixtures at union demonstrations, especially those in the construction trades. At the Cleveland International Film Festival this spring, protesters used a rat to demonstrate against a decision to use nonunion managers instead of union projectionists. A rat with a sign that said 'Jobs Not Bush' was part of a protest when President Bush spoke at the Cleveland Convention Center last year.

    But not every union member would mind if inflatable rats were no longer used in protests.

    'It gives a bad image of the trades,' said John Porada, executive vice president of the Construction Employers Association, a group made up of more than 600 union contractors in northeast Ohio.
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