Goats are here, and they're taking your jobs
Middle class workers all over America cite different reasons for losing their jobs: immigration, automation, offshoring. One union in Michigan is claiming they lost their jobs to goats. The 400-member chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees has filed a grievance contending the work the goats are doing in a wooded lot is taking away jobs from laid-off union workers.
The Battle Creek Enquirer, a local Michigan paper, reports Western Michigan University rented 20 goats to clear poison ivy and other weeds from about 15 acres of land - leaving AFSCME workers out of work. A representative from the university said this is an environmentally friendly solution and is the second year they have enlisted goats for brush-clearing purposes.
The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees alleges that they weren’t notified by Western Michigan about the goats. “AFSCME takes protecting the jobs of its members very seriously and we have an agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement with Western Michigan,” union president Dennis Moore told the Battle Creek Enquirer. “We expect the contract to be followed, and in circumstances where we feel it’s needed, we file a grievance.”
Western Michigan is not alone in their use of goats for landscaping purposes. Grounds of Google, Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, and Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. have all been tended to by goat groundskeepers. But as with human workers, goats don’t always get the job done. The city of Salem, Oregon, fired its 75 goat workers in February 2016, complaining that they cost too much, left behind a “heavily fertilized area,” and, ultimately, weren’t particularly selective about what they ate.