It has been a dramatic few weeks at the National Labor Relations Board. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden fired Trump-appointed general counsel Peter Robb. Days later, Biden named Peter Sung Ohr as the board’s acting general counsel. Ohr has already taken steps to roll back many of his predecessor’s policies, and lawyers have been watching his actions to divine what might lie ahead under Biden’s NLRB.
One of the biggest winners to emerge from the shake-up at the NLRB has been Scabby the Rat, the large inflatable rodent that often appears outside businesses and construction sites as a sign of protest in a labor dispute.
Robb had wanted to rid sidewalks, picket lines and protests of Scabby, Bloomberg Law reported in 2019, and he pursued multiple cases alleging that deployment of the balloon rat is a form of unlawful picketing. But on Feb. 2, Ohr filed a motion to dismiss a high-profile case about whether Scabby’s appearance at an RV trade show amounted to an illegal secondary boycott that puts pressure on employers not directly involved in the employment dispute.
“General Counsel Ohr is going to release Scabby from the very temporary cage that Scabby was in during the General Counsel Robb years, and Scabby is going to be out there in full effect,” said Sherman & Howard member Patrick Scully. “And I think that’s quite clear, based on [Ohr’s] action so far in abandoning that prosecution.”
According to Scully, Ohr’s motion to dismiss isn’t just a green light for Scabby but also a sign that unions will be free to engage in other forms of non-picketing protest, such as stationary banners and street theater, under Biden’s NLRB.