Category Archives: Economics

Mississippi Nissan Employees Vote Not to Unionize

By Free Radical

tpugxc4vkmx41cw9puiaNational sources have confirmed that workers at Nisaan’s Canton, Mississippi auto plant decided not to accept the United Auto Workers’ bid to represent them. A two day vote ending on Friday culminated in a tally where 2,244 anti-union voters (nearly 63%) defeated 1,307 pro-union voters.

According to the New York Times, the contest had considerable racial overtones. The majority of Nissan workers are Black in one of the nation’s most heavily Black and poor states.  This predicament, where few high paying, stable jobs are available to African-Americans has engendered loyalty among employees who can make more than $20 per hour and receive paid holidays, vacation time, and retirement packages. These pay scales and benefits are rare to nonexistent in central(but really most areas of) Mississippi.

Yet racial resentment uneasily coexists with appreciation. Some Black employees claim that White workers are disproportionately given promotions based on their race and not their merit.

However this unionization battle is bigger than Mississippi. For decades, automakers have moved operations from the North, with its storied history of labor activism and victories, to the South which has been historically more successful in defeating union efforts.

Critics argue that while the rope thrown to African-Americans by car companies provide a temporary lifeline in better compensated jobs, that same rope becomes a noose crippling any efforts to gain further concessions and greater control over the means of production. Furthermore, African-Americans are constantly reminded of their own vulnerability as car companies can threaten to pack up their operations and move elsewhere as had been the case when northern plants have closed down in previous decades.

These fears are not theoretical as the UAW has alleged that Nissan forewarned workers that if they unionize the plant could close and workers’ jobs would not be guaranteed if they chose to strike.

It is unclear where the UAW plans to go from here. They spent considerable resources in Mississippi only after they lost another fight to unionize Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2014. In a market heavily stratified by class and race, the future of labor rests squarely on the shoulders of Black workers. As they go, so does the movement.

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The NFL’s Big Headache

John Urschel, former NFL lineman.

John Urschel, former NFL lineman.

By Free Radical

Last week, the NFL received even further confirmation of the dangerous risks its players face every time they step on the field. Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist and director of the C.T.E. Center at Boston University, published her findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association, stating that a whopping 110 of the 111 NFL brains she studied had the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is caused by repeated blows to the head and triggers the symptoms of memory loss, confusion, depression, and dementia.

The term CTE was first identified by Nigerian born doctor and forensic pathologist, Bennet Omalu whose story was featured in the Hollywood movie, Concussion. The movie depicts how Omalu was attacked by the NFL for his findings, even calling the doctor’s science “voodoo.” It should be noted that voodoo is practiced in Haiti and not Nigeria.

The NFL has since acknowledged the link between the game of football and CTE and has created an elaborate PR campaign to encourage “safe” tackling and flag football.

In addition to the 111 NFL brains studied, there were another 91 studied of former players in the Canadian Football League, semi-professional leagues, college football, and high school football. Of these 91 former players, 87% were found to have CTE.

While players among this group are largely unknown, two of the NFL’s brightest stars have likely had their careers end because of head injuries or the threat of long term brain trauma.

Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel, who has been featured in NFL sponsored studies for his intellectual acumen (he is pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics at MIT), retired two days after Dr. Mckee’s study was published. Anonymous sources from ESPN and the Baltimore Sun cite that Urschel’s decision was based partly on McKee’s findings.

The previous week, Michael Oher, whose life was the subject of the Hollywood blockbuster The Blind Side, was released from the Carolina Panthers for not passing a medical physical. He was on concussion protocol, (a medical status that requires players to pass a series of tests before returning to the field after sustaining a concussion) for most of last season. It is likely that he has played his last game.

Also, last week, the National Institutes of Health announced that it would end its relationship with the NFL which began nearly five years ago. The NFL pledged to donate $30 million for research on head injuries yet has not paid nearly $16 million of the promised funds.  The two sides disagreed with the nature of the research to be conducted. According to ESPN, the NFL became distraught when the NIH awarded a grant to Dr. Robert Stern, a colleague of McKee who has also been critical of the league.

Adding insult to injury, a new survey by J.D. Power and Associates released findings last week that NFL viewership declined by 8% last regular season. The findings revealed that the majority of fans who chose to watch less football did so because of protests against police brutality by players such as Coliin Kaepernick. NFL ratings will likely continue to decrease if players, reading the tea leaves of current scientific research, choose other forms of employment.

Black Unemployment Shows Modest Improvement in May

By Free Radical

Black unemployment dropped to 7.5% during the month of May.

Black unemployment dropped to 7.5% during the month of May.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black unemployment dropped 0.4% in May to 7.5%. This is one of the largest drops in the last year. It had only dipped 0.1% for the months of March and April.

These figures reflect larger employment trends as the total number of jobs added in May was 138,000. The national and White unemployment rates were both reduced last month by 0.1% in May to 4.3% and 3.7% respectively.

Along with unemployment, underemployment, also dropped. In May, it dipped from 8.6% to 8.4%. Underemployed tracks individuals who would like to work full-time but are

New Study: Black Women’s Status Exposes American Dream as Myth

By Free Radical

Despite increases in educational attainment and entrepreneurship, Black women still lag behind other groups in key socioeconomic statistical areas.

Despite increases in educational attainment and entrepreneurship, Black women still lag behind other groups in key socioeconomic statistical areas.

On average, Black women are doing the right thing. And by right, they are doing all of the things that most economists, sociologists, political scientists, etc. say one must do to become successful in the country. Nonetheless, they have not been rewarded for the strides they have made according to the new study, “The Status of Black Women in the United States” conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit organization affiliated with George Washington University. The findings were published by the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

The report shows that though 6 in 10 Black women are in the workforce, between 2004 and 2014 Black women working full-time jobs had median annual earnings that were 64.6% of White men.

Though the number of Black women owned businesses rose 178% between 2002 and 2012 (the largest among all racial groups), Black women had