Union sues college for using goats instead of people for lawn maintenance

Western Michigan University is being sued by the local AFSCME chapter because the school decided to use goats to maintain a part of the grounds instead of people.

The union says WMU violated its collective bargaining agreement because it is using (wait for it) "non union goats" and failed to notify the union they were going to use the animals.

Washington Free Beacon:

"AFSCME takes protecting the jobs of its members very seriously and we have an agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement with Western Michigan," he told the Enquirer.

The university denied that it had violated the labor rights of its workers and emphasized that the goats were limited in use. The animals were hired to clear a small woodland segment of poison ivy and invasive species, rather than cut the grass – a job reserved for maintenance crews that belong to AFSCME. University spokeswoman Cheryl Roland told the Enquirer that goats were first introduced onto campus in a pilot program in 2016, which did not result in a labor grievance. The campus has since expanded its goat workforce from 10 to 20 in order to deal with increased acreage.

"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," Roland told the paper. "Not wanting to use chemicals, either, we chose the goat solution to stay environmentally friendly."

The union disputes the idea that human beings are unable to clear poison ivy. Moore said that the situation necessitated a formal grievance because the university failed to honor its exclusive contract with the union.

"We expect the contract to be followed, and in circumstances where we feel it's needed, we file a grievance," he told the Enquirer.

So how are the scab goats working out?

The 20-goat crew is expected to clear about 15 acres on the southwest side of Goldsworth pond before students return for the fall semester.

The goats are ahead of schedule, said Nicholas Gooch, a university horticulturist and the project leader.

Ahem.  Non-union goats are "ahead of schedule"?  No wonder the union is complaining.  At the moment, it's even money to see which species can perform the job better.

AFSCME should realize that today it's goats; tomorrow, it will be robots.  They are acting as if it were still the 1980s when, in fact, they have already priced themselves out of a job.

Goats are cheaper and more efficient, and they don't take hour breaks for a half-hour lunch.  Apparently, the goats have yet to organize, although there is a rumor that a union rep from AFSCME has infiltrated the goat herd and is agitating for the goats to join.

The surprising thing?  The union rep didn't have to disguise himself.

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