First there was illegal immigration. Then there was automation. Now an article out of Michigan this morning could herald the next big wave of challenges to the labor force in this country. The Battle Creek Enquirer writes that a labor union has filed a grievance against a herd of goats. Specifically, it tells us:

The 400-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has filed a grievance contending that the work the goats are doing in a wooded lot is taking away jobs from laid-off union workers.

It seems that Western Michigan University has, for the second year in a row, employed a herd of gluttonous goats to “clear undergrowth in a woodlot, much of it poison ivy and other vegetation that is a problem for humans to remove.” The union appears to be peeved that they were not properly notified that “goat crews” were on campus, and that they have taken jobs that are contractually owed to their members. Union President Dennis Moore was quoted as saying, “AFSCME takes protecting the jobs of its members very seriously and we have an agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement with Western Michigan. We expect the contract to be followed, and in circumstances where we feel it’s needed, we file a grievance.”

A spokesperson for the university said, “For the second summer in a row, we’ve brought in a goat crew to clear undergrowth in a woodlot, much of it poison ivy and other vegetation that is a problem for humans to remove. Not wanting to use chemicals, either, we chose the goat solution to stay environmentally friendly.”

She added, “The area is rife with poison ivy and other invasive species, and our analysis showed the goats to be a sustainable and cost-effective way of removing them.”

Apparently, the university employed the same goat crew last year, and were very pleased with the results. 

This could be a harbinger of things to come. Think about it. Goats don’t need much in the way of remuneration. They pretty much are willing to eat their salary (literally). They don’t require breaks. They don’t need benefits. They don’t fight for paid family leave. They don’t need protective gear. They don’t generally call in sick. They don’t need holidays off. They don’t file sexual grievances, although in some backwater areas of the world they probably should. And if one gets hurt and can no longer work, we just eat it – or at least send the meat to some backwater areas of the world so someone can eat it.

Honestly, if they can ever train a goat to flip a burger rather than eat it off the grill, the whole “Fight for $15” movement is doomed.

There was no mention of the legal immigration status of this particular goat crew. They are owned by Garrett Fickle and his wife, Gina, the proud proprietors of the company “Munchers on Hooves”. They “rent out their four-footed ‘lawn mowers’ to homeowners, commercial property owners and other clients.” This would indicate that the goats are indeed legal residents. Until of course, the animal rights whackos make it illegal to “own” any animal, in which case “Munchers on Hooves” will have to be recast as an employee owned company.

The university says that the 20-goat crew is expected to clear about 15 acres before school resumes in the fall. They are also said to be, unlike many union run jobs, currently ahead of schedule.

I hope they have some security goats on that crew. Messing with a union can be dangerous. But I am sure the goats are taking it in stride, keeping their heads down and their mouths full. After all, the goat work ethic will keep them focused on the task. They are just doing their job. 

Another day, another Dollarweed.

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