Livestock News

Michigan union files complaint against goats butting in

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Is Western Michigan University using goats as scab labor and taking away jobs? One union seems to think so.

What started as a project to control invasive plants damaging campus woodlots at Western Michigan University has turned into a civil complaint filed by the 400-member American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The grievance states that the goats are devouring jobs that laid-off union workers could do on the 16-acre lot.

While the goats are being used to trim grass, the union has a contract to cut the grass at Western Michigan and says the University should have notified them about the project ahead of time.

Last year Nick Gooch, WMU horticulturist, proposed bringing goats as a pilot project to campus to test their viability for helping to control invasive plant species infesting campus woodlots, particularly buckthorn, honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet, and poison ivy.

“The current management practice to combat these species using labor, machinery, and chemical herbicides is labor- and capital-intense and fails to improve the site to allow the native community to achieve balance and restore the ecosystem,” Gooch wrote in his project proposal.

“Campus woodlots are going to continue to be attacked by invasive species due to the continued use and development of the sites by the campus community. WMU is an ideal place to lead a pilot project using goats for land management that has the potential to build on our already commendable sustainability record.”

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