Union Rats are Made in a Non-Union Shop
On a rare trip to Midtown East for a meeting Wednesday morning, we spied an all-new yellow "union rat" peering into the second floor windows of an office building undergoing a (presumably) non-union renovation, and got curious about the nasty-looking inflatable critters and where they come from.
Turns out they're made in a (according to a 2003 Fast Company article) non-union shop based right in the midst of Big Union Country: Chicagoland.
Big Sky Balloons & Searchlights, a Plainfield, IL manufacturer of cold-air inflatable advertising balloons, offers a line called "Rat Pack / Union Balloons" that besides giant rodents, includes "Greedy Pig", "Cockroach", "Union Skunk" and a "Corporate Fat Cat", clutching a helpless construction worker in its meaty corporate paw.
Interestingly, we always assumed the airbrushed patch of boils and sores that appears on the loins of many of the blow-up rodents was a vague "scab" reference. But according to the same Fast Company piece, Big Sky's owner Mike O'Conner added the "pink belly with festering nipples" at a union member's request for a meaner-looking beast.
The Inflatable Union Rat [Fastcompany.com]
Rat Pack / Union Balloons [bigskyballoons.com]