TGIF, am I right? Welcome back to Human Capital as we explore some of the latest news on work, diversity, and inclusion in technology.
This week we'll cover the usage of "master / slave" terminology in computer programming and the current state of gig workers in California.
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GitHub to Sunset Master / Slave Terminology
This is probably not news to developers, but it was news to me when I found out that many tech companies are still using slave-master language. Now, Microsoft's GitHub is preparing to remove these references to slavery by naming the primary code repositories "main" instead of "master". These changes will take effect October 1st.
GitHub talked about making these changes as early as June, when CEO Nat Friedman tweeted that it was something the company was already working on. However, GitHub is by no means the first company to consider and make these changes. In 2014, The Drupal open source platform has replaced "Master / Slave" with "Primary / Replica".
One of the reasons for the change was: “The word“ slave ”has negative connotations (although this may or may not be relevant to the naming of a technical term), including the multi-year history of slavery in favor of the European colonial powers, prison workers who are now being forced are young girls who are now sold into sex slavery in many parts of the world to work in conditions sometimes resembling this slavery. "
Then in 2018 The Python programming language has abandoned racist terminology. Meanwhile, Twitter took steps earlier this year to replace these terms and hopes to replace this terminology by the end of 2021, according to CNET.
What's wild is that these terms existed in the first place and are just being addressed. While Los Angeles city officials asked his in 2003 Manufacturers and suppliers who no longer wanted to use the terminology did not need it.
So it's no wonder some tech companies are struggling to keep black employees. For example, in 2019, Google reported that Black and Latinx talent attrition rates – which indicate the annual rate of employee leaving – were above the national average. When racism is built into the technical framework of a company, the misconception that white people are superior to black people remains.
The latest in the battle for Prop 22 and AB 5
Two big things happen when it comes to gig workers: Prop 22, the California bill backed by Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and DoorDash that aims to classify workers as independent contractors and lawsuits that are in AB 5, the Californian Law that went into effect earlier is rooted in the year that sets out how gig workers are properly classified.
Let's start with Prop 22. A new survey by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found it to be a close choice. In a poll of 5,900 likely voters, UC Berkeley's IGS found that 39% of voters would vote yes on Prop 22, while 36% said they would vote no. The other 25% are undecided.
As we mentioned last week, the Yes-to-22 campaign invested about $ 180 million in the campaign while the No-to-22 side invested about $ 4.6 million. In the meantime, we're seeing ads for Yes to 22 in on-demand apps.
On the AB 5 side, Uber and Lyft are still on trial after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, sued the companies for misclassifying their workers. A number of Amicus briefs have been filed in the appeals court, which granted a suspension of the injunction that would force Uber and Lyft to immediately reclassify their drivers.
A brief filed by the National Employment Law Group, the ACLU, and other civil rights groups states that Uber and Lyft are harming paint workers by making them independent contractors:
Many skin-colored poor workers and immigrant workers are stuck in a separate and unequal economy where they are underpaid, put at risk in the workplace, and left to their own devices, with no access to paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation or other protection. By insisting that their drivers are not employees, Lyft and Uber are further distancing black workers from the fundamental rights in the workplace that provide real flexibility and economic security. Instead, their business models trap poor workers in persistent cycles of poverty and economic exclusion.
In the event that Uber and Lyft are forced to reclassify their drivers, both Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Lyft CEO Logan Green filed affidavits earlier this month confirming that they both have plans to obey an order according to which they have to reclassify their respective employees.
In Khosrowshahi's statement, he simply said, “Uber has developed implementation plans” to fulfill an order in no more than 30 days. In Green's statement, he said, "Such an implementation may include the suspension of ridesharing operations in all or some parts of California."
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