from the survival-of-the-fittest dept.
It seems likely that everyone here has heard the old saw "No one ever got fired for buying|using Microsoft". Well, times change.
The government of the Italian province of South Tyrol wants to save money and, noting Munich's savings of over 10 million euros, it sees Free Software as a solution. (The freedom thing isn't lost on them either.)
Governor Arno Kompatscher says "We've started to review our license costs. If there are free and open source alternatives, and where the costs and risks of changing are justified, we will switch to these." The new policy is meant to reduce IT costs. Should this fail, the region must resort to reduce its workforce, in order to balance the region's budget.
Did you catch the nuance? If you are a gov't employee and they can't change software because you aren't adaptable enough to use something other than Windows, you can plan on being the first one out the door. Hat tip to Robert Pogson for just the right spin on this story.
Computing is notorious for not having a worthwhile professional association. Some practitioners join the IEEE, the IET or the ACM. However, membership typically costs hundreds of dollars per year and offers little practical help to computer professionals working in small companies. If you're working for government or a large corporation or you're a super programmer in a well funded start-up then you probably have a union or you don't need a union. However, if you're the sole techie in a small business, appreciation for your dedication is just the start. What happens when you're asked to do something unethical or illegal? Where do you turn when a job goes sour? How do you avoid the problem? How can you avoid really toxic employers?
Rather than paying hundreds of dollars per year for talks and conferences, you require local experts who have first-hand experience of local employers and local employment problems. How can this be achieved reliably and cost-effectively? This is where our expertise should shine. Firstly, union entry should be at least as stringent as the conceirge union. Secondly, there should be a web-of-trust within each metropolitan region (and ideally between regions). In the best case, the network distance between all members should be four or less. Thirdly, an obligatory website should incur less hits than SoylentNews and therefore an upper bound for costs can be established for a volunteer effort. Essentially, it should be possible to run a union from donations of US$3000 per year or significantly less. Indeed, the major cost to members would be food and drink expenses when informally meeting other members.
So who wants to join a computer professional union with sensible fees and obligations?