I have seen many inflatable union rats in New York City. On some occasions, I have seen multiple inflatable union rats at a single site. Until the morning of May 5, 2021, I had never seen an inflatable union rat next to a coffin and an inflatable man in a hazmat suit.

Photograph of an inflatable man in a hazmat suit and an inflatable union rat with a coffin between them outside an apartment complex.
I took the photograph with the Open Camera App on my Motorola Moto e6. Edited for publication by Victor V. Gurbo. A bit less cheery that my previous inflatable Brooklyn Heights find.

Had I only seen a union rat, I would not have stopped to take a picture. But a union rat next to a coffin? Must-take. The inflatable hazmat suit worker was a bonus.

My Attempt to Explain the Scene

I am not privy to the particular union-management dispute that led to this dramatic display in Brooklyn Heights. With that disclosure aside, I would hate to present a picture without any analysis or attempt at an explanation. Let us put on our inductive reasoning hats and get to the bottom of the union-management dispute in a way that explains the presence of the dramatic (inflatable) personae and the coffin.

It seems likely that union workers at the apartment complex were of the view that their worksite was not safe. The inflatable Mr. Hazmat Suit leads me to believe that the union’s concerns had to do with Wuhan coronavirus protocols. The coffin between Mr. Hazmat Suit and Mr. Union Rat suggests that the union’s view was that the worksite conditions put the lives of union workers in danger. Mr. Union Rat being on scene suggests that management was, as of the morning of May 6, 2021, using non-union workers instead of agreeing to the union’s demands.

Am I right? I know not, but I think my explanation purports to explain the unusual trio. I have not seen signs of in the area since I took the photo, so perhaps the major dispute has been resolved.