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How a 20-foot inflatable rodent became a union label

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A giant rat looms over Flatbush Avenue, in downtown Brooklyn. The 20-footer was inflated by organizers from Local 79, a laborers' union in New York City, to protest a non-union contractor. (Photo by Amy Crawford)

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Members of Local 79, a New York City Union, picket a non-union employer, supported by their 20-foot inflatable rat. (Photo by Amy Crawford)

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Members of Local 79, a New York City Union, chant slogans next to their inflatable rat, part of a protest against a non-union employer. (Photo by Amy Crawford)

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The Center for Union Facts deployed its anti-union dinosaur in 2007 when the U.S. Senate was considering a bill to eliminate secret balloting in union elections and to make it easier for employees to join unions. The bill was defeated by Republicans who threatened to filibuster. (Courtesy of the Center for Union Facts)

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From Hollywood picket lines in Los Angeles to nonunion construction sites in Chicago and New York, a 20-foot inflatable rat has become one of the most recognized symbols of the labor movement.