Empire State Realty Trust exec pays for giant inflatable cat to counter union’s protest rat

Local 1 was snubbed for 1 Grand Central Place facade job
February 27, 2017 02:30PM

From left: Inflatable rat, One Grand Central Place and a caricature of a fat cat

Unions, meet the corporate fat cat. An Empire State Realty Trust executive paid to place a giant inflatable feline outside a Midtown construction site to counter a union protest with a large inflatable rat.

The idea of the stunt, apparently, was to use the cat to bully away an inflatable rat installed by unions outside the REIT’s office building One Grand Central Place. It wasn’t clear whether the unnamed executive considered the irony of using an animal widely considered a symbol of predatory corporate greed.

Bricklayer and craftworker union Local 1 has been protesting outside the building because it was passed on for a facade-renovation job, according to the New York Post, which has a video of the rat and the cat. MDB Development Corp. picked up the contract, leading to the protest, the New York Post reported. Inflatable rats are a staple of union protests against nonunion contractors in New York.

“It was pretty hilarious,” one banker who works nearby told the Post. “The cat went right up to the scaffolding. It could have easily kicked that rat’s ass.”

After scurrying away at about 2 p.m. Friday, the union returned on Monday morning with a new inflatable rat that was even larger than its feline foe. Union members have vowed to apply for permits for an inflatable rat that is large enough to grace the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

If you want to see a picture of the cat, check out the Post article. [NYP] Konrad Putzier