E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
To annoy for refusing to join a trade union, or for not submitting to its demands. This is done by destroying or taking away a workmans tools, or otherwise incapacitating him from doing work. To rat is to desert ones party; to work for less than the price fixed by a trade union; and ratten is to act the part of a rat. (See RAT.)