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Giant, Crying Rat Draws Old City Hotel Guests Into Labor Dispute

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(A giant inflatable rat sat outside the Wyndham Hotel, at 4th and Arch Streets, on Wednesday and Thursday.  Credit: Pat Loeb)

(A giant inflatable rat sat outside the Wyndham Hotel, at 4th and Arch Streets, on Wednesday and Thursday. Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The amplified recording of a screeching infant has been disturbing guests and neighbors of an Old City hotel that recently changed hands.

The sound effect, along with a ten-foot-tall inflatable rat, are the centerpieces of a protest by union workers who say the hotel is using out-of-town labor for renovations.

Meanwhile, the hotel guests are wondering why they’re the ones paying the price.

“This woke me up half past six yesterday morning,” said Alex Taylor, visiting Philadelphia from Britain with his wife, “and I was sort of half asleep thinking, ‘Oh my god, there’s a baby in distress somewhere!’  And it took me about five minutes to work out that it was on a loop, and therefore it was somebody playing it.”

His wife, Sally, says they believe in free speech so they didn’t complain.

“We just turned the air conditioning up really loud,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

The crying sound, ear-splitting at ground level, is meant to be “the sound of the middle class being destroyed,” according to Pat Gillespie of the Building Trades Council, who says out-of-town labor  erodes wages.

The hotel carries the Wyndham brand but is owned and run by Texas-based FelCor. A spokesman was unavailable for comment.

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