Labor Union Mad at Job-Stealing Goats at Western Michigan University - Modern Farmer

Labor Union Mad at Job-Stealing Goats at Western Michigan University


Elpis Ioannidis on Shutterstock

Though goats do not actually eat tin cans, it is true that they’ll devour what few other animals will. In recent years, landscapers and parks employees have begun to utilize the that proclivity to clear unwanted, sometimes invasive, plants. But at Western Michigan University, reports the Battle Creek Enquirer, the relationship between goat and man has soured. Soured like goat milk that’s been left out in the sun. Ha ha again!

Goats love plants, and they actually seem to have a taste for otherwise-toxic ones like poison ivy. That, coupled with their cheap cost and borne-of-mountain-climbing ability to perch anywhere, have led to goats being lent out as undergrowth-clearing machines. In Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, for example, a particularly overgrown and rocky section was recently cleared precisely that way.

In this specific case, Western Michigan University last year used goats to clear poison ivy since they’re apparently unaffected by the toxic oil the plant produces. But the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has filed a grievance complaint against the university, claiming that by hiring a team of goats to do this work, the school is unfairly taking work away from the union’s members. (Western Michigan is a public university.)

The university says that the goats were used only for small jobs, and that for jobs better suited to humans, like clipping grass, humans remain their first choice. But the AFSCME says they have a contract with the university, and that hiring cheap labor instead of their workers – even if that labor is a charming animal with an extremely good beard – is a breach of contract.

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