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Workers at Chile's ALMA Telescope Strike Over Working Conditions

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the but-stars-are-free dept.

Space 274

An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from Deutsche Welle: "'Employees at the world's largest radio telescope have gone on strike after failing to reach agreement over pay and conditions. Workers say they are not sufficiently compensated for isolation and high altitude.' The strike started on Thursday, and the telescope is currently not operating. Although the project's budget is $1.1 billion, an ALMA technician earns less than $2,000 per month. How does this compare with people working at observatories in the U.S., Japan, or the European Union?"

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274 comments

Apples to Apples. (5, Insightful)

sjwt (161428) | about 8 months ago | (#44663105)

These guys are earning $2,000 p/m more than ALMA workers who are working in US, Japan or the EU.

Lets get a comparison of wages earned by locals doing similar skilled jobs.

Re:Apples to Apples. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663119)

hee hee what a bunch of niggers dumbass jigaboos what a bunch of coons haa haa stupid bunch of nigjigs laa laa dumb ass tribal speakchuckers!! you say african american i say nigger american whats the difference? theyre both niggers you dumb cunt!! dumb stupid civilization destroying welfare eating bastardchildfactory primitive gangstatribal bunch of criminal breeding NIGGERS yeah! that's what they are uh huh.

even libtardbedwetters wouldnt visit a black ghetto they know how violent niggers are! no matter how not-racist the libtard is!! hahahaha you preach something but you cant live the way you preach you niggerloving libtards,yeah thats right pretend to be the niggers friend to get his nigger vote you niggerlover but dont ever live with niggers because you wouldnt like that! hahaa hahahaa bunch of PC nigger lovers wow only nigger lovers like them are even worse than niggers who steal your car and smoke crack!

niggers think being a thug is cool what a bunch of niggers! niggers beat up black kids that study because they act white, what a bunch of dumb niggers! hey why dont the niggers just work hard to keep other niggers dumb, oh wait thats what they do!! dumb fucking niggers! hey why dont the niggers just try real hard to keep more niggers in prison than niggers in college at any given time? oh wait thats what they do!! dumb fucking niggers! hey why dont the niggers hurt and kill each other till black on black crime is much higher than white on black crime everwas? oh wait thats what they do!! dumb fucking niggers! hey niggers why dont they always defend niggers who fuck up and do stupid shit just because they are fellow niggers like treyvon? oh wait thats wha they do, he's a nigger youre a nigger so you niggers act like niggers!! dumb fucking niggers!

hey why dont niggers get nigger slashdot accounts like a great big bunch of niggers and mod shit like this down because niggers dont wanna hear what a big nigger every nigger really is so they mod it down and hope it goes away!! oh wait thats wha they do!! hahahaha mod the truth down niggers then you forget the truth and what do you end up with? niggertruth! oh wait thats what they do!!

wow niggers are too stupid even niggers think niggers are stupid, dumb niggers! hahahaha nigger nigger nigger yes read it and weep you niggers and you nigger lovers hahaaha yeah he said NIGGER do you get upset when somebody says NIGGER? unless you know theyre black then its ok to say NIGGER? how do you know im not black you NIGGER? you dont you fucking nigger! you just assume i must not be black because you stereotype what races are and what they do and you think you fucking know everything! you don't! you know less than a nigger!! what if I am black and say NIGGER then what you NIGGER! didn't niggers wait so long for the freedom to say NIGGER on the internet? didn't think of that NIGGER did you NIGGER?! yeah. you NIGGER!

Re:Apples to Apples. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663135)

Exactly. By the same comparison should they be paid the same as technicians in outer Mongolia, Bangladesh, India?

The wage quantity stated means nothing without giving the amount's relation to cost of living and other expenses.
Pity there isn't a "Flamebait" article tag.

Re: Apples to Apples. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663387)

Funny how statists label any argument they disagree with as "flamebait" instead of actually making any kind of intelligent counter argument.

Re: Apples to Apples. (-1, Flamebait)

popo (107611) | about 8 months ago | (#44663145)

Go find work elsewhere then.

Striking just shows at they can't. Otherwise they already would have.

Re: Apples to Apples. (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about 8 months ago | (#44663189)

Go find work elsewhere then.

Striking just shows at they can't. Otherwise they already would have.

The flip side is that without unions and the real threat of losses caused by strikes, the next employer in that line of work will merely do the exact same thing. Consider the way that the major cell networks all charge similar rates (including overcharging in many cases for texting) when they are ostensibly competing with each other for customers. If it's not actual collusion it's similar in effect because it's based on a "market rate" which is merely a look at what everyone else is doing.

Now maybe other employers should do the same thing, I'm not giving an opinion there (for those reactive types who can't plainly see that I didn't), just that such an effect is something to consider.

Non sequitur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663281)

Someone needs to take some logic courses. And then some courses on capitalism. BTW, you pay for your text messages? Really?

Re:Non sequitur (0)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 8 months ago | (#44663345)

Someone needs to take some logic courses. And then some courses on capitalism. BTW, you pay for your text messages? Really?

I think he capitalized that well. I went back over it and looked for what issues.... Oh, wait... Capitalism... Not capitalizing...

Never mind.

Re:Non sequitur (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#44663821)

Someone needs to take some logic courses. And then some courses on capitalism. BTW, you pay for your text messages? Really?

That's a classic non-argument. Try making a point.

Re: Apples to Apples. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663425)

They most certainly do not charge the same rates. Sprint's unlimited plans are much cheaper than AT&T or Verizon. T-Mobile's pay as you go is much cheaper than anyone else.

The plans are difficult to compare directly, but there are major price differences in some areas. AT&T has a fantastic contract-less unlimited data plan with limited minutes and text for $30/month. I don't know of anyone else with a similar plan.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#44663573)

T-mobile has an unlimited no-contract voice, text, and data plan for $35/month. Only 2G speeds unless you pay extra, but depending on usage that's comparable/better than AT&T's. I think Virgin Mobile has something similar as well, but their coverage appears to be even worse that AT&T's

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663195)

Go find work elsewhere then.

Striking just shows at they can't. Otherwise they already would have.

Written with beautiful ignorance...

Re: Apples to Apples. (3)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 8 months ago | (#44663205)

"Otherwise they already would have."

If you think that work is about nothing more than earning money, you're not just an idiot, but someone I feel sorry for.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 8 months ago | (#44663231)

You would be correct if the technicians weren't on strike over (quite reasonable for Chile) wages.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 8 months ago | (#44663261)

Yes, but being on strike over wages doesn't necessarily mean you can't find another job, possibly with better pay/conditions. It means that you are willing to work *there* (experience/enjoyment/loyalty), but only under better pay/conditions.

Re: Apples to Apples. (0)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 8 months ago | (#44663711)

You would do well by reading US history of Unions and you should thank them for making YOUR life easier. Its amazing how people conveniently forget how we get to where we are now. And have you done any research as to Chili Economy and what jobs drive it? Maybe they could work in the copper mines i hear it pays well.

Re: Apples to Apples. (5, Interesting)

ThreeKelvin (2024342) | about 8 months ago | (#44663209)

No - striking shows the employer that the employees will not work under the terms set forth, but wouldn't mind doing the work if they could come to terms. It's a lighter version of finding a new job - and a rather more appropriate response in many cases.

Now, the employer can respond in a number of ways. Just to name a few; She can fire the employees if she thinks that the pay is adequete to attract new employees, she can wait the employees out, or she can enter negotiations. You know - just like any other free market where people are negotiating prices and conditions.

(On that note: I really don't get why some Americans are so much in favor of a free market when it concerns goods, but very much against it when it's labor.)

Re: Apples to Apples. (3, Interesting)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 8 months ago | (#44663251)

Because Americans aren't generally in favour of a free market. They're under the yoke of protestant work ethic, which is servitude with an essentially religious basis.

A free market would see workers refusing to work with non-union workers, and unions regularly campaigning for higher wages until there was a more equitable distribution of wealth. But the laws in many states/countries have made this illegal or practically impossible.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

umghhh (965931) | about 8 months ago | (#44663597)

I think in US it is not the unions that can help. These are incompetent, corrupt bureaucrats that are charge with tasks that overwhelm them. The problem is elsewhere me thinks. The general attitude seems to be confrontation with workers organizing themselves being seen as communists or mob or both.

I am really at a loss as to why of late any news coming from US is about corruption, stupidity, oppression, showing people that are arrogant, badly educated or the opposite but then smart enough to reap off anybody else and this all comes always in a mix with 'we are the best' pride usually. Come to think of it the only things US of A is good at seem to be sending carrier groups all over the place and punishing people for silly things [bbc.co.uk].

I am pretty sure there is more to it than that - maybe it is the pond between us that is allowing only the ugly noise to come over.

Re: Apples to Apples. (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 8 months ago | (#44663723)

I think in US it is not the unions that can help. These are incompetent, corrupt bureaucrats that are charge with tasks that overwhelm them.

Some unions, yes. One I was in at one job was in bed with management and worse than useless, but most are worth far more than the union dues.

Unless your union sucks the union leaders are democratically elected by the union members, and you vote on everything they do, including whether to accept a contract, whether to strike, etc.

If your union sucks it's your own fault.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663671)

Anyone that thinks that is a good way to do things are a communist (no I'm not using it as something bad - simply for stating a political fact).

Here in Sweden several companies have closed because unions (and therefore members of those unions) refused to deliver goods to them as their employees wasn't unionized. Note that the employees wasn't unionized as the employer offered better terms than the appropriate union would give. The transport union was completely unrelated to the union the workers could have joined too so it was a purely political move.

Have any worker in those companies wanted to join a union but been hindered by the employer? No. Doing that would be against Swedish law. Any worker could - if they wanted - joined a union and gotten the worse terms without problem.

Have any worker had worse rights and/or pay than a comparable unionized company? No. In fact they have had higher pay and safer work contracts than the standard union terms.

Have any worker gotten better terms in another job? Not likely. See above. In fact in many cases they became unemployed.

Giving unions too much power is a bad thing.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#44663851)

The US is so far from Sweden in this regard that any comparisons are pointless. Neither I, nor I suspect any other posters here, know about the situation in Chile.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

gerf (532474) | about 8 months ago | (#44663847)

I'm non-union and involved in installing new machines in a union business. They require us to hire union people to do the installation while we are restricted to supervision. So they do indeed do that.

As for higher wages across the board? Unions these days are pretty self-serving, even amongst their own. Thus you get two-tier wage levels or even three or four tiers in some cases. The older guys won't vote in lowering their $30/hr operator wages, so they cut more from the new guys who aren't voting yet, who end up getting around $14/hr with minimal increases.

Re: Apples to Apples. (3)

causality (777677) | about 8 months ago | (#44663269)

(On that note: I really don't get why some Americans are so much in favor of a free market when it concerns goods, but very much against it when it's labor.)

The idea sadly is like this: when government and corporations exercise market power, that's the free market. When workers or average customers exercise market power, it's hippy pinko communism.

The fact is, an employer and an employee inherently have competing interests. Negotiating is a perfectly valid way to resolve competing interests by seeking a middle ground acceptable to both.

Re: Apples to Apples. (-1, Flamebait)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 8 months ago | (#44663363)

Hello. I would like to ask one question of you:

Do you now, or have you in the past, owned a company with employees working for you?

.
Please don't read judgement into that question. It is simply something I always wonder when I hear statements like yours.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

Rhywden (1940872) | about 8 months ago | (#44663619)

Ah, yes, the famous "You need to be / have done [insert whatever area of interest here] to be allowed to give a meaningful statement!" argument.

By that yardstick, one must be a thief to be allowed to judge over thieves, be a taxi driver to say anything regarding taxi drivers or be a Christian to be allowed to discuss the Bible.

Or where [i]else[/i] do you want to take this vein of discussion? Because I can't see it going anywhere else. "No judgement", my ass.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 8 months ago | (#44663739)

Someone must have missed the part where I specifically state:

Please don't read judgement into that question. It is simply something I always wonder when I hear statements like yours.

Oh, no, you state you did read that, and just can't figure out what it means. You think you have the only valid viewpoint in this matter, so anyone else who doesn't immediately agree with yours is not only wrong, but subversive and deceitful as well. Gee, I've never come across your kind in these forums. (That last sentence is sarcasm, in case your view is too narrow to recognize it.)

As for causality, for all we know, he owns a business with 20 employees that he treats well, and thinks other business owners should do the same.

In fact his last remark of:

The fact is, an employer and an employee inherently have competing interests. Negotiating is a perfectly valid way to resolve competing interests by seeking a middle ground acceptable to both.

shows he has a deeper grasp of the situation than you apparently do. He at least isn't simply jumping on someone he may or may not agree with, based on a narrow mindset based on his own misperceived self-image, unlike you rhywden.

But have a nice day, and thank you for the reply.

Re: Apples to Apples. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663515)

Bullshit. In a closed shop state, it's not a free market. One organization has a state enforced monopoly.

Re: Apples to Apples. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#44663871)

It's also not a free market if the owners of a company have a magical, state created and enforced, way to escape their liabilities. It's called a "corporation".

Re: Apples to Apples. (1, Informative)

TheGavster (774657) | about 8 months ago | (#44663859)

If Chilean labor law actually permits the employer to fire strikers and provides protection against a mob assaulting any new employees, then bravo for Chile. In America, you'd be sued into oblivion, your factory surrounded by a mob, and any scabs assaulted on their way to work, and the police wouldn't lift a finger.

Re:Apples to Apples. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663925)

In the US this type of work would typically be done by a graduate student; typical grad stipend is..... $2000/mo. (Mine started at $1600, eventually peaking at $2400).

Premium not enough? (0, Flamebait)

mysidia (191772) | about 8 months ago | (#44663111)

It sounds like they're trying to take advantage and cheat their employer, because they're in a remote area -- making them harder to fire and replace; because they see there is a good bit of money to the project --- but the management still has a fiduciary duty to spend it appropriately. Just because the project has a $1 billion budget; does not mean the facilities workers, janitors, techs, etc, get six figure salaries that are out of line with the market rate of the work to be done, and the employee's work experience.

Workers say they are not sufficiently compensated for isolation and high altitude.'. The strike started on Thursday, and the telescope is currently not operating. Although the project's budget is $1.1 billion, an ALMA technician earns less than $2.000 per month. How does this compare with people working at observatories in the U.S., Japan, or the European Union?"

Wait.... they're essentially getting $12.50 an hour for a minimum wage technician job, And they're saying their $5.25 (a huge premium) isn't compensation for high altitudes and isolation, after considering their opportunity for adventure?

Perhaps they should not have taken on that work then.

There are plenty of cook jobs at fast food restaurants that are not on the mountain.

Minimum wage technician? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663137)

So would you get minimum wage technicians to operate a state-of-the-art gear like are these telescopes?

What could go wrong?

Re:Minimum wage technician? (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 8 months ago | (#44663299)

Right? Like Nuclear Power Plant Operators. There were, in the beginning, considered highly skilled labor in a dangerous environment. Then it became something a monkey could do, followed by... Chernobyl.

This kind of crappy work... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663509)

I thought this is exactly the kind of thing grad students were for?

Re:Minimum wage technician? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663537)

What could go wrong?

As if I could see it. Aim at the ISS's bathroom window and then post a youtube video?

Re:Minimum wage technician? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663549)

Play space invaders shooting the lasers to flyby satellites?

Re:Premium not enough? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663159)

It sounds like you are an ass

Re:Premium not enough? (-1, Troll)

Nimey (114278) | about 8 months ago | (#44663233)

Or a Republican, but I repeat myself.

Re:Premium not enough? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#44663601)

You're wearing the other teams colors. Boo! Boo!
We're all in this together (well, except maybe those at the very top of the heap), and there's plenty of idiocy in every faction, yours included. How does hurling random pointless insults at each other help further the discussion and promote good governance?

minimum wage is not 7.50 in chile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663181)

i w... j..
sigh

just sigh

Re:Premium not enough? (4, Insightful)

rastos1 (601318) | about 8 months ago | (#44663197)

hey're trying to take advantage and cheat their employer, because they're in a remote area -- making them harder to fire and replace;

How is that cheating? I thought that is a simple demand and supply rule.

Re:Premium not enough? (3, Informative)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 8 months ago | (#44663211)

"cheat"

Not really. The only cheaters are those who lie that there is something immoral about organised labour.

All employees should unite and strike until paid enough to balance the distribution of wealth. And there's nothing employers would then be able to do about it, except turn employees into slaves.

And that's why there are so many lies told about unions.

Re:Premium not enough? (2)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 8 months ago | (#44663503)

So, you are saying you would prefer everyone to not have a job, than for most people to have a job but with some people making a lot more money than others.

There aren't as many lies told as you think. Some are valid critiques of viewpoints similar to yours.

Re:Premium not enough? (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#44663885)

That right there is one of the lies. So long as there is work to be done at even razor-thin profit margins there will be jobs available.

Basically for any business the gross income is distributed into two broad categories:
Operating costs
        Overhead (rent, utilities, sunk costs, etc)
        Input resources (incremental costs)
        Cash reserves and forward-looking investments
Net profit distribution
        Employee salaries and bonuses
        Executive salaries and bonuses
        Shareholder dividends

Let's assume we can't touch Costs without hurting the company. That still leaves everything in the Profit section open to negotiation - *nothing* there will directly impact the viability of the company.
- Cutting dividends would likely hurt stock prices, but would have no effect on operation of the company beyond reducing future capital that can be raised by selling more.
- Cutting executive salaries might drive off some executives, but there's only so many executive positions available in the world and it's unlikely an executive will leave that labor market to lay bricks unless the salaries get to be comparable, so that's a pretty weak argument.

So why exactly shouldn't employees, the ones actually doing the work that's generating the profit, be negotiating for a bigger piece of the profit?

In the 1950s the average situation was that the top executives in a US company were making 30x as much as the lowest-paid employee. Today that number is somewhere well above 300x (the top executives are making 300x the *median* employee salary) Why is that? Granted those executive salaries wouldn't go all that far when spread around a large company, but they're probably plenty to give everybody a 10-20% raise and still let the executives make 50x as much as the janitors. Why exactly would that be a bad thing?

Yes, some unions overreached themselves and started cutting in to operating costs. That's a bad thing and those unions deserve to crumble, and the company deserves to collapse if they can't find more reasonable employees. Far more though just fought for their piece of the profit, or even more important things like reasonably safe and non-hostile working conditions. Are you really going to argue against that?

Re:Premium not enough? (2)

Livius (318358) | about 8 months ago | (#44663773)

Except everyone has a different idea of a just distribution of wealth.

Why are jobs with the lowest skills that are already overpaid the most likely to unionize? Why has no union ever dissolved itself after achieving its objective?

Re:Premium not enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663841)

there is something immoral about organised labour

A union,s refusal to accept that a human being has the right to work and make decisions for his or herself without having to succumb to pressures to join the union.

$5.25 not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663221)

What they are saying is that $5.25 is not enough to compensate for high altitudes and isolation. I don't see how you or anyone else can judge them on that...unless you are an oil worker from Alaska (earning double regular wages).

Re:Premium not enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663267)

I agree, they do nothing to warrant higher pay for a non labor job..And if they do not like it they can quit, and get "real" jobs within there education.

Re:Premium not enough? (5, Interesting)

SynFlood (8769) | about 8 months ago | (#44663277)

Dude, i invite you to work in ALMA for a month, a 16,000 ft, with temps as low as 14 F , and winds of 32m/s for $12.50 per our on 12 hour shift with out bathroom or a descent place to eat.... then we can talk

Re:Premium not enough? (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 8 months ago | (#44663419)

...with out bathroom or a descent place to eat.... then we can talk

Actually, they probably do have to make a descent to find a place to eat.

Although, why is there no bathroom up there?

Re:Premium not enough? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#44663911)

with temps as low as 14 F

You must be from California or something. Some of us call those temps "winter".

Re:Premium not enough? (2)

confused one (671304) | about 8 months ago | (#44663397)

They're probably not working 40 hour work weeks. When you're in a remote site like that, you tend to work all the time. I would not be surprised if they're working 12 hour days, 7 days a week while they're on-site.

Let us forget that they're in Chile for a minute.

If you're going to do a comparison to American salaries, $12.50/hr buys you an assembler / fabricator, not a technician. The work "technician" does get mis-used; but, if we assume that the title is correctly applied... A technician will draw a salary 2x to 3x that amount, depending on their skill level. A really good, experienced RF technician should be pulling a salary that's well into the low end of the engineering salary scale. That's before any premium for working in a remote site like the one ALMA is situated on.

Now for the hard part -- scaling for cost of living. If they are technicians from South America, where the cost of living is lower, you might argue that the salaries should be lower. If a substantial number of the technicians are Japanese, Europeans or American, you can expect to have to pay a salary comparable to salaries in their native country; otherwise, they have no reason to come to Chile (other than for the experience of working at ALMA). If there is a mix, and there is no salary parity -- Chilean's are paid 1/3 of Japanese technician's pay -- then you end up with something like the current situation. To avoid that you might have to pay everyone on the same salary scale.

Re:Premium not enough? (1)

headhot (137860) | about 8 months ago | (#44663755)

Its not cheating its call supply and demand and fundamental to capitalism. If there is not enough of something, it becomes more expensive. In this case its labor. Thats exactly what is going on here.

My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (2, Interesting)

niftydude (1745144) | about 8 months ago | (#44663131)

Although the project's budget is $1.1 billion, an ALMA technician earns less than $2.000 per month.

1) Project budget is $1.1 billion. Sure, but over how many years? 1, 5, 10? Comparing a large number over many years to a monthly rate is disingenuous.

2) $2.000. WTF? Only some few european countries still use "." as a thousands separator instead of ",". This is an english language website, use english locale settings because to everyone else, that reads as $2.00 a month, which obviously has to be wrong.

3) Where does the $2000 a month figure come from anyway? It isn't in tfa. Citation needed.

And yes, I'm grumpy, I'm working because I have a major deadline next week.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (2)

xvan (2935999) | about 8 months ago | (#44663243)

From Mexico to Chhile/Argentina, you can find lots of countries with '.' as thousands separator. Last time I checked, we still aren't part of the EU, but I might be wrong...

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about 8 months ago | (#44663265)

But you do all speak European languages...

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663373)

english is a european language.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#44663947)

English started as a European language. However they've bastardized it over there, while we Americans have preserved its integrity (not far from the truth - American English is closer to the common language of the Colonial Era than British English).

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (5, Informative)

SynFlood (8769) | about 8 months ago | (#44663283)

First of all, I work for ALMA and I'm part of the workers union , but i'm speaking for myself.

the budget is 1.5 billion already spent on the project , each antenna with all its equipment cost US$10 million, and there are 64 of them,and then you have to add all the building, devices, software licenses, computers, network equipment and other things that the project needs, so you can go easily to one billion only on that , which is already in place.

about two, yes english site, agree use , instead of . for thousand separator ;)

three, 2,000 USD is the average, some workers make less than 1,000 USD per month, working 12 hours a day on 8 days working, 6 days off shift, the average is 2,000 USD and top paid workers are getting nearly 6,000 USD per month.

Another important point, we are on strike NOT for the money, we are on strike because the company that have our contracts is changing condition and removing some benefits , maybe U.S. laws permit that, but ALMA is located in Chile, and laws here are different, also ALMA is abusing of its special diplomatic condition to disallow inspection by the agency in charge of verify working conditions (Inspeccion del Trabajo de Chile).

Also to clarify, most of the work is performed at 5,000msn (16,000 ft over sea level), with tempetures as low as -10 celcius (14 fahrenheit) with relative humidity of 5% and winds of 10 m/s (32feet/s).

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663401)

in the us system, winds are quoted in miles/hr so 10m/s ~ 22mph.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (2)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 8 months ago | (#44663467)

Thank you for the information SynFlood. Mind if I ask a few questions?

1. What type of jobs are these? Someone above mentioned "minimum wage technician job", but I don't think he knows what jobs are actually in dispute here. Are these advanced jobs maintaining the equipment, or manual labor wrench turning and meter reading jobs?

2. What is the comparable pay scale of similar jobs in other areas in Chile? Obviously there needs to be a bonus for working up there, freezing you ass off, but we don't know what the base salary for Chile's tech workers are.

3. Personally, are you a local there in Chile or neighboring country, or are you from North America, Europe, etc, and moved there to work in this project? What about the other workers; roughly what percentage are local or foreign?

I just now read the article linked, and see nothing at all as far as details. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Canada (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 8 months ago | (#44663879)

Obviously there needs to be a bonus for working up there, freezing you ass off

There does? Last time I checked I didn't get a winter bonus up here in Canada where the temperatures hit -40C. -10C for a _high_ counts as heat wave in January. Even the schools will send the kids out for break times as long as the temperature is above -23C. Except for the altitude those conditions are mild compared to a typical Canadian winter and the Alberta minimum wage is only C$1,854/month with an undoubtedly higher cost of living.

As you point out more details are needed to do a fair comparison but, with the details available so far, it frankly looks like they are not being teated that shabbily.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about 8 months ago | (#44663475)

Thanks SynFlood - your post is more informative than the entire article that was linked!

Disallowing the inspection of working conditions seems like pretty bad practice. Has ALMA given a reason for why they are doing that?

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (1)

galoise (977950) | about 8 months ago | (#44663757)

They don't have to give a reason in as much as they are not "preventing" it actively, they are just using some of the operational benefits that they enjoy under their status as an international organization with diplomatic immunity in Chile. The UN does the same thing, there are a number of UN organizations with seats in Chile (Big regional hubs for the ECLAC, UNDP, FAO, etc), and they are exempt from a number of local regulations in Chile, including General Labour Direction oversight. Self-regulation of international organizatons is kinda critical for diplomatic functions, specially for a country like Chile, that has a long tradition of big international organizations operating there... But this is unprecedented. The whole arrangement generally works (and is politically viable in the long run) precisely because these organizations tend to have better working conditions and internal regulation than the (miserable, paltry) ones currently required by Chilean law. Disclaimer: IANAL, but I'm from Chile and worked at the ECLAC/UN there for a couple of years :)

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663719)

Odd. Either my spanish is far worse than I think, or your webpage says that it is about the money. [sindicatoalma.cl] Of course, your page also says it has been a year since the inauguration of the telescope when it clearly has not.

Without really understanding all the details I have no idea if the union is making reasonable or unreasonable demands. However, you really should try to communicate a clear, consistent, and factually correct message. Making small errors like getting the 1 year wrong makes everyone wonder about all the facts they can't verify. If you can't tell 1 year from about 6 months how do we know you can tell fair pay from unfair pay?

Quick note on the pro and anti-union debate: guys, sometimes unions are good, like when they save workers from truly unfair wages and force the correction of dangerous work conditions. Sometimes they are bad, like when they prevent the employer from compensating each employee according to their performance, or when they prevent them from firing an employee for spending 100% of their work time goofing around on slashdot (and other non-work web activities). The devil is in the details, and in this case almost nobody on slashdot has them.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 8 months ago | (#44663785)

Another important point, we are on strike NOT for the money, we are on strike because the company that have our contracts is changing condition and removing some benefits , maybe U.S. laws permit that, but ALMA is located in Chile, and laws here are different

My U.S. employer tried the same thing, my union sued the company for breach of contract (and won).

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (1)

confused one (671304) | about 8 months ago | (#44663845)

Thank you for the added information. The article was disengenuous if they quoted the construction budget; the operations budget is an entirely different allocation.

In the U.S. there are some protections at the Federal level (base minimum wage, worker safety, anti-discrimination); but, most of the employment laws are set at the state level. Employment regulations in California are very different from, say, Alabama, or Illinois, or compared to Virginia (where I am).

Removing benefits is not a way to keep your employees happy. Changing the terms of employment at contract renewal happens sometimes though. I hope you all work that out. Disallowing inspections for worker safety and working conditions... That's just not right.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663313)

2) $2.000. WTF? Only some few european countries still use "." as a thousands separator instead of ",". This is an english language website, use english locale settings because to everyone else, that reads as $2.00 a month, which obviously has to be wrong.

Oh. You didn't get the memo. Allow me:

When used in the United States, such affectations are code for "I am a flaming homosexual and have the desire to fellate you".

HTH.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about 8 months ago | (#44663569)

When used in the United States, such affectations are code for "I am a flaming homosexual and have the desire to fellate you".

I don't live in the United States, and even if I did, I'm also not homophobic. Your pitiful attempt at insult really says more about you than it does me.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663667)

Dear Homo,

Oh. A reading comprehension issue.

I didn't SAY you lived in the US. I said "when USED in the USA". And in case you didn't notice, this is a USA based forum.

HTH.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (1)

etash (1907284) | about 8 months ago | (#44663347)

, as a thousand separator? WTF, not everybody is english or american, the world does not revolve around you.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (2)

niftydude (1745144) | about 8 months ago | (#44663519)

, as a thousand separator? WTF, not everybody is english or american, the world does not revolve around you.

It's common courtesy. When in Rome, etc. If I post to a non-english website, I do my best to get my language, currency and date formats correct, and I expect the same when others come here. And at any rate, correcting this sort of thing in the summary is what the editors are for.

For the record, I'm neither english nor american and I don't live in either of those countries, so no, I don't think the world revolves around me.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663469)

2) $2.000. WTF? Only some few european countries still use "." as a thousands separator instead of ",".

By "some" you mean "all", plus most of South America and much of Asia, right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:20130228DecimalSeparator.svg

And it's not that hard to figure out what they're saying. The confusing thing is that right before they use a period with the _other_ convention, so that's confusing.

Re:My 3 least favorite things in one sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663521)

>Only some few european countries

that's about all of them, except UK

Survival mode (2)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 8 months ago | (#44663179)

If you were exposed in the Atacama, you would most likely be dead in less than 48 hours. TFA touches on this, but it is emphatically not a nice place to hang out.
Sometimes I, too, chafe under the terms of my peonage.

Nonsense (1)

nnnnnnn (1611817) | about 8 months ago | (#44663187)

I hire a contractor for $2000 to fix my roof. He takes the job and begins work. Halfway through he says that $2000 is not enough for his isolation and high altitude. He stops the work, goes on strike demanding more money and prevents me from hiring another contractor. Someone care to explain how that is legal and not a breach of contract?

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663213)

I hire a contractor for $2000 to fix my roof. He takes the job and begins work. Halfway through he says that $2000 is not enough for his isolation and high altitude. He stops the work, goes on strike demanding more money and prevents me from hiring another contractor. Someone care to explain how that is legal and not a breach of contract?

1. We're talking about employees - not contractors.

2. This is Chile - different legal system.

3. They should use the MUCH cheaper labor of grad students and interns like they do in the States.

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663335)

3. They should use the MUCH cheaper labor of grad students and interns like they do in the States.

Grad students are MUCH cheaper? They are some cheaper, but MUCH? In Russia, yes, in the US, no. (The Russia bit isn't a joke, they pay them far below poverty line there.)

Re:Nonsense (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#44663223)

I hire a contractor for $2000 to fix my roof. He takes the job and begins work. Halfway through he says that $2000 is not enough for his isolation and high altitude. He stops the work, goes on strike demanding more money and prevents me from hiring another contractor. Someone care to explain how that is legal and not a breach of contract?

Things would be different if you agreed to pay him $2000 a month for general work, i.e. not a fixed price contract for a single job. In that case he could say that he will stop if you don't pay him more - and you could replace him with someone else or pay him more if you thought he was worth it.

Re:Nonsense (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 8 months ago | (#44663253)

Care to explain to us how that's not false equivalence?

Re:Nonsense (1)

nnnnnnn (1611817) | about 8 months ago | (#44663433)

Why is it a false equivalence? I take the job either at the stated price or by underbiding everyone else, once I get it, I stop work and ask for more.

Re:Nonsense (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 8 months ago | (#44663403)

I hire a contractor for $2000 to fix my roof. He takes the job and begins work. Halfway through he says that $2000 is not enough for his isolation and high altitude. He stops the work, goes on strike demanding more money and prevents me from hiring another contractor. Someone care to explain how that is legal and not a breach of contract?

Contractor's got ol' roofie fixed right up for $2k. Ah, but your balls of steel and the once banned Bay-Watch reruns have got your roof in a constant state of ill repair. So, you ring the roofologist up and say, "I've got another $2000, Doc, so fix me up."

The workers have been around your block though, and risking a blown off head over your smeggin' flat-top just isn't flyin'. They refuse to do the deadly tap dance lest better pay be coming their way too.

Now let's put you in the scientists' shoes: say instead of you fitting the bill it's your land lord's flat wot your rocks 'r blastin' off in. Seein' you commin' they budgeted bucketloads for repairs. Now you're bottled up with more rage than a widowed cuckold, but that don't change a bleedin' thing though, right? No one's breechin' the $2k contract 'cause they ain't takin' the money shots.

So, you can either negotiate a rate or get a new crew who won't be so great as the last guys, since it'll be their first time; The fresh folk'll want more than $2k being as your little game's exposed on the telly now and everyone's wise to your surprise.

Oh boo hoo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663193)

So they're making double what I do? In a country where that money is probably worth double than it is here in the U.S.? They need to STFU and get back to Jodie Fostering.

Re:Oh boo hoo (3, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 8 months ago | (#44663227)

Oh look, it's the race-to-the-bottom attitude. "I'm suffering, and the solution is to make more people suffer, rather than to lift everyone up."

Meanwhile the guys at the top laugh at you as you remain divided and conquered.

Re:Oh boo hoo (1, Flamebait)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 8 months ago | (#44663531)

Oh look, it's the race-to-the-bottom attitude. "I'm suffering, and the solution is to make more people suffer, rather than to lift everyone up."

Yeah, I hate that liberal attitude towards wealth and jobs too. "It's better if everyone had less, as long as the rich lose more."

Glad to see another enlightened /.er.

Re:Oh boo hoo (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#44663239)

So they're making double what I do? In a country where that money is probably worth double than it is here in the U.S.? They need to STFU and get back to Jodie Fostering.

if you are working full time and earning only $1000 a month in the USA then you want to look for a new job. This is less than minimum wage for a 35 hour week!

Re:Oh boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663357)

I only work 3 days a week. I'm little more than an intern at an I.T, gig. Working my way towards full time and a large raise. I'd love nothing more than to fill in the remaining time with another part-time job, but everyone tells me "oh, you work in I.T.? Well that makes you overqualified since we know you'll just quit as soon as they offer you more"
They aren't wrong. In the next month or so I expect my income to quadruple. But that isn't the point: the point is I have zero sympathy for people who are getting paid not just more than me, but when exchange rate is considered a LOT more than me, to work in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, doing a job with little to no physical effort, they're education IS being paid off because their cost of living is nill, and they go on strike from a job staring at radio telescope monitors because "OMG we work on a mountain and it's lonely and haaaaaard". Like others have said, that $2,000 a month is worth closer to $90k in terms of local living costs. If these people were working in a telescop in the U.S. for $90k a year, and went on strike because mountain, you wouldn't be accusing me of a "race to the bottom", you'd be telling them to STFU and get back to work or let somebody else do the job for them.
Fuck you, I'd LOVE to work on that mountain, so would a lot of other people.

Cost of living under $1000 a month (4, Informative)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 8 months ago | (#44663259)

The cost of living in Chile for american expats is under $1000 a month.

The average annual income is $11,039.

If the observatory workers are making $2000 a month, then they seem to be making the equivalent of about $90,000 in the U.S. for local goods and services- tho very little in terms of world products (like imported automobiles and air conditioners).

Re:Cost of living under $1000 a month (0)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 8 months ago | (#44663271)

I thought everyone was agreed that we want to stop employers exploiting wage disparity between nations.

If every specialist in a foreign nation strikes until they get paid a wage matching the salaries of the home country of their employers, each country would actually produce its own stuff, instead of the Anglo-Saxon and European nations acting as remote slavedrivers.

Re:Cost of living under $1000 a month (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 8 months ago | (#44663303)

I don't mind (tho I don't think it's realistic to think wages are going to go up rather than average out).

There will be side effects of course.

It would absolutely murder tons of retired people in those countries as the cost of living goes up by 100% and their pensions and social security programs are unchanged.

Of course, retirees in the 1st world would benefit as wages stagnated and dropped.

One correction, "Anglo-Saxon and European nations" should probably be "Anglo-Saxon and European corporations."

I wish them luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44663263)

They are in an isolated place that is crap to be in doing highly specialized work on very expensive machinery and making what SHOULD be considered minimum wage in the US. I am glad to see them stand up for something better than that crap and I wish them luck.

Fire them (-1, Flamebait)

nurb432 (527695) | about 8 months ago | (#44663495)

Really, if they don't want to preform their duties, get rid of them. There are other people that would gladly do their part to advance scientific research and not whine about it.

They need to grow up and stop being babies, what 'working conditions' did they expect being stuck on the top of a mountain i the middle of nowhere?

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