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Is The Giant Inflatable Rat An Endangered Species?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The giant, inflatable rat familiar to New Yorkers at union protests may be an endangered species.

The rat, known as "Scabby," is apparently on the way out, according to a report.

Mike Elk of the labor movement blog "In These Times" reported that Sean McGarvey, president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, Tweeted "a call to retire the inflatable rat. It does not reflect our new value proposition."

However, a look at the Tweet the blog links to gives a page does not exist error, suggesting that it may have been deleted.

Elk reported that when he asked McGarvey via Twitter why he wanted to retire Scabby, he got the following reply: "The rat symbolizes intimidation tactics of 30 years ago. We want to engage owners re: our value proposition not threaten them." reached out to the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, where a spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the purported call to retire Scabby, offering only a flat "No comment."

However, Jill Cashen, the communications director for United Food & Commecial Workers Union, Tweeted support for the call to deflate the rat.

The inflatable rat is made by Big Sky Balloons and Searchlights in Illinois. An employee there told CBSNewYork they hadn't heard about the purported call to sundown the inflatable rat, but was skeptical.

"I really don't foresee that they will go away," said Marie Darask. "If you can't get ahold of anybody and the Tweets are gone, that kind of speaks for itself."

The inflatable rats range from six feet to 25 feet tall, and can cost between $2,500 and $7,000. Darask said they sell several Scabbys a month.

Scabby, naturally, has his own Twitter account, and was less than thrilled for the call for his retirement.

"Scabby" is named after the term union workers use to describe non-union employees who take their jobs when they go on strike.

Would you be sorry to see Scabby go? Sound off in our comments section below. 

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