Man Stabs Teamsters' Giant Inflatable Rat Used in Union Protests: Police

By Erin Meyer on July 11, 2013 6:28am 

 George Koukos, 43, of Wauconda, allegedly cut a hole in the Teamsters' giant inflatable protest rat over the weekend. He also ran it over with his car, prosecutors said.
George Koukos, 43, of Wauconda, allegedly cut a hole in the Teamsters' giant inflatable protest rat over the weekend. He also ran it over with his car, prosecutors said.
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Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Scabby is a mainstay of union protests in Chicago, a giant inflatable rat meant to shame companies that use nonunion workers.

Scabby, however, met his match this weekend when an angry worker stabbed it with a box cutter and then ran over the deflated rodent with his car, prosecutors said. The worker was trying to get past the rat during a Downtown dispute with a Teamsters organizer.

The Scabby slashing hit George Koukos hard, though. Police charged the 43-year-old Wauconda resident with a felony and locked him up.

It happened, prosecutors said, as Teamsters Union demonstrators gathered outside 20 S. Clark St. on Sunday.

Koukos tried to leave work, but got into an argument with a Local 705 organizer about whether he was a union member.

Koukos tried to leave, but the giant rat was blocking his exit, according to court records. When the union organizer refused to move the rat, Koukos pulled out a box cutter and stuck it into Scabby.

The air rushed out as Koukos got into his vehicle and ran over the deflated rat, according to court records.

According to the Inflatable Rat's Facebook page, it stands "about 8 feet tall, is grey and fed up!"

Scabby pops up whenever union demonstrators want to draw public attention to nonunion employers and contractors.

Historically, the Teamsters Union, which represents a range of blue collar workers and professionals, has a reputation for intimidation, even violence. 

On Sunday, instead of taking matters into their own hands, union organizers called police. The judge setting bail for Koukos took note.

"Teamsters have refined themselves, haven't they," Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. said during a bond hearing Wednesday.

Koukos was originally charged with a misdemeanor. But after the state's attorney's office dropped those charges this week, Koukos was arrested again on felony charges as he left a courtroom at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse.

Koukos is now charged with criminal damage to property and aggravated assault. Bourgeois set his bail Wednesday at $100,000.

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