Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board issued this decision in which it found that a union did not violate the National Labor Relations Act by displaying a 12-foot inflatable rat with red eyes, fangs, and claws.
This should have surprised no one
Here’s more from the NLRB’s press release:
The prior General Counsel had alleged that the display of these items was unlawfully coercive, arguing that the Board should overrule precedent. The Board had earlier issued a notice and invitation to file briefs on that question.
Three members of the Board joined in an opinion dismissing the complaint. In her separate concurrence, Chairman McFerran expressed her belief that the outcome of this case was required by Board precedent. In their separate concurrence, Members Kaplan and Ring agreed that the complaint must be dismissed here to avoid creating a possible conflict with the First Amendment, but expressed disagreement with some aspects of prior precedent. Member Emanuel, dissenting, would have found the banner and rat display to violate the Act.
The First Amendment has its limits. For example, coercive or threatening behavior crosses the line. But, standing alone, a large cartoonish inflatable rat ain’t it.