Coldwater landscaping company Munchers on Hooves has got one union’s goat.
The company, which uses goats to clear lots overgrown with invasive plants, drew criticism from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local union earlier this July when it contracted business with Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Munchers has been stealing jobs from outdoor workers by employing undocumented goats, according to the union’s newsletter.
Munchers’ co-owner Gina Fickle said the goats are not taking work from workers; they’re making work safer for human laborers to follow in their place. Additionally, she told The Collegian her business has never stirred controversy before.
“This grievance wasn’t even filed against us. It was filed against the goats. We were never really approached or contacted about the goats being an issue,” she said. “We ended up finding out about it when my mom called us and told me she saw the story on Detroit Channel Four News.”
According to WMU Spokesperson Cheryl Roland, no WMU workers have been displaced by the goat project.
Roland told the Associated Press it would not be appropriate for her to make any detailed comment because WMU has a process underway for addressing the grievance.
Project manager at WMU Nicholas Gooch told the Associated Press that the school is pleased with Munchers’ work.
“We have been very happy with the progress, impact and PR generated from this project from both the campus community and the community as a whole,” he said. “There have been no complaints of any nature prior to the news of this union ordeal.”
The union did not respond to request for comment.
Although the incident has given Munchers significant media coverage, Fickle told The Collegian the grievance has not hampered her business’ future work.
“We completed our job on August 26 and we will be back at WMU next year,” she said.