The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) runs a number of major ground-based telescopes and is preparing to furlough employees in Arizona if the US government shutdown continues past October 18th but it will keep workers on in Chile.

Why? $25.5 million of their funding is NSF and the government has decided that almost none of the 1,700 employees at the National Science Foundation are as important as the 463 people the president needs just for White House staff.  97% of NASA is also on paid vacation.

So why furlough US employees when 78% of a $38.2 million budget is NSF? Do they get paid by the day, couldn't they just use some of their other budget money until the issue is resolved? Why keep employees in Chile intact? 

Chilean labor laws forbid putting employees on involuntary unpaid leave - and this is not unpaid, everyone who works for the federal government will still get paid, saving us no money at all - but Chile is getting paid no matter what, leaving workers in America stuck.

US astronomy organization plans closure of Arizona scopes by Alexandra Witze, Nature blogs