Non-profit

Economic Policy Institute (EPI)

This is a logo owned by Economic Policy Institute for infobox. (link)
Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

52-1368964

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $6,596,530
Expenses: $5,550,991
Assets: $5,337,148

Formation:

1984 [21]

Type:

Left-Wing Think Tank

Board Chair:

Richard Trumka

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is a research institution funded, chaired, and promoted by labor unions and labor union supporters. The Institute distributes research studies supporting the labor union agenda by promoting international trade restrictions,[1] substantial increases in minimum wages,[2] and claims that public sector union employees are underpaid.[3]

While it asserts that it is nonpartisan for tax reasons, Economic Policy Institute has close ties to current and former Democratic Party officeholders. Its founders include two Democratic Secretaries of Labor, Ray Marshall and Robert Reich, who continue to sit on EPI’s board. A third, Alexis Herman, also sits on EPI’s board. Minnesota Attorney General and former U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, a firm ally of organized labor, was also an EPI board member as of 2014.[4] Democratic National Committee chair and Obama administration Secretary of Labor Tom Perez has also been added to the EPI board.[5]

The Institute aligns so closely with labor unions in large part because it is a creature of the labor movement. EPI’s board of directors included 10 international union presidents as of 2014, and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka serves as EPI’s chairman.[6] The connections with labor also come in funding: In unions’ 2015 fiscal years, contributions from labor totaled $1,648,993.[7] According to EPI, 29 percent of its contributions from the 2013-2016 period came from labor unions.[8]

Background

In the mid-1980s, left-wing labor union-aligned economic policy advocates sought to counter the growing influence of free-market-based policy in the Reagan Administration. By 1986, a group of left-wing economists led by Jeff Faux of the National Center for Economic Alternatives had founded the Economic Policy Institute as a think tank to advance an agenda closely aligned with that of the international labor unions.

EPI’s founders are major players in left-Democratic economic thinking and labor policy making. Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of Labor, Ray Marshall; future Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton Robert Reich; American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner; and university professors Barry Bluestone and Lester Thurow were all part of EPI’s founding.[9]

Since that time, EPI has been a reliable mill for labor union, Democratic Party, and left-wing talking points on fiscal and economic issues. EPI has promoted the idea that public employees are underpaid,[10]  that international trade kills employment,[11] and that minimum wage increases will not lead to job loss.[12]

Ties to Radical Economists

In support of its heterodox positions on the minimum wage, the Economic Policy Institute frequently circulates letters signed by large numbers of economists that support EPI’s positions. However, upon further inspection, the economists supporting EPI’s views often come from far outside the economic mainstream.

The free-market Employment Policies Institute examined one such batch of letter signers and identified numerous outside-the-mainstream signatories. In addition to the usual cast of labor-union-aligned researchers, the letter was signed by at least 40 academics aligned with Marxism or other openly socialist economics doctrines.[13] One of the signers, Paul Zarembka, edited a volume of “9/11 Truth” conspiracy literature.[14]

Funding

The Economic Policy Institute releases some information on its funding. According to EPI, it received 79 percent of its funding from 2013-2016 from foundations and labor unions.[15]

In 2014, foundation contributors to EPI included George Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society, the Ford Foundation, the Bauman Family Foundation, the Arca Foundation, the Nick and Leslie Hanauer Foundation, the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Energy Foundation, and the Public Welfare Foundation.[16] EPI also received $525,000 from donor-advised funds, which can be used to anonymize the source of funding to groups.[17]

Labor unions provided over $1.6 million to EPI in their 2015 fiscal years. The top union funders include the American Federation of Teachers; National Education Association; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); the AFL-CIO; the United Auto Workers National Capital Council; and the United Steelworkers, which each provided at least $100,000 to EPI.[18]

The Economic Policy Institute is reportedly related to a 501(c)(4) organization, the EPI Policy Center.[19] EPI is also associated with the Economic Analysis and Research Network, an alliance of over 60 liberal think tanks and state-level policy organizations.[20]

References

  1. Faux, Jeff. “Vicious Circle of Trade.” Economic Policy Institute. August 14, 2003. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/publication/webfeatures_viewpoints_trade_circle/ 
  2. “Minimum Wage.” Economic Policy Institute. 2017. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/research/minimum-wage/
  3. Orr, Andrea. “Public-sector workers earn less.” Economic Policy Institute. January 5, 2011. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/publication/public_sector_workers_earn_less/ 
  4. Economic Policy Institute, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Part VII
  5. “Board of Directors.” Economic Policy Institute. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/about/board/
  6. Economic Policy Institute, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Part VII
  7. Author’s analysis of data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor Management Standards from Annual Reports of Labor Organizations (Forms LM-2) filed by labor unions in 2015 fiscal years.
  8. “Funder acknowledgments and disclosure principles.” Economic Policy Institute. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/about/funder-acknowledgments-and-disclosure-principles/ 
  9. “Board of Directors.” Economic Policy Institute. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/about/board/
  10. Orr, Andrea. “Public-sector workers earn less.” Economic Policy Institute. January 5, 2011. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/publication/public_sector_workers_earn_less/ 
  11. Faux, Jeff. “Vicious Circle of Trade.” Economic Policy Institute. August 14, 2003. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/publication/webfeatures_viewpoints_trade_circle/ 
  12. “Minimum Wage.” Economic Policy Institute. 2017. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/research/minimum-wage/
  13. “About Those 600 Economists Who Support a $10.10 Minimum Wage.” MinimumWage.com. Accessed October 18, 2017. https://www.minimumwage.com/2014/02/about-those-600-economists-who-support-a-10-10-minimum-wage/
  14. Zarembka, Paul, ed. The Hidden History of 9-11. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2008. https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-History-9-11/dp/158322825X
  15. “Funder acknowledgments and disclosure principles.” Economic Policy Institute. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/about/funder-acknowledgments-and-disclosure-principles/ 
  16. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Queries conducted October 18, 2017.
  17. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Queries conducted October 18, 2017.
  18. Author’s analysis of data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor Management Standards from Annual Reports of Labor Organizations (Forms LM-2) filed by labor unions in 2015 fiscal years.
  19. Economic Policy Institute, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Schedule R Part II
  20. “EARN: Economic Analysis and Research Network.” Economic Policy Institute. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.epi.org/earn/
  21. IRS Form 990, 2014. EPI claims it was founded in 1986.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Julianne Malveaux
    Secretary-Treasurer
  2. Gary Bass
    Board Member
  3. Mary Kay Henry
    Board Member
  4. Randi Weingarten
    Board Member
  5. Robert Reich
    Founder, Board Member Emeritus
  6. Ray Marshall
    Founder, Board Member Emeritus
  7. Alexis Herman
    Founder, Board Member
  8. Keith Ellison
    Board Member
  9. Lawrence Mischel
    Executive Director
  10. Leo W Gerard
    Board Member
  11. Lee Saunders
    Board Member
  12. Tom Perez
    Board Member
  13. Debra L. Ness
    Board Member
  14. Roger Smith
    Board Member
  15. Robert A. Johnson
    Board Member
  16. Jeff Faux
    Founder, Board Member
  17. Jacob Hacker
    Board Member
  18. Susan Helper
    Board Member
  19. Robert Kuttner
    Board Member
  20. Alejandro Ruelas
    Board Member
  21. Thea Lee
    President
  22. Wilma Liebman
    Board Member
  23. Lisa Lynch
    Board Member
  24. Pedro Noguera
    Board Member
  25. Manuel Pastor
    Board Member
  26. Joel Rogers
    Research Associate
  27. Naomi Walker
    Director, EARN

Associated Organizations

  1. EPI Policy Center (Non-profit)

Coalition Memberships

  1. Not One Penny (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1985

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form 990 $6,596,530 $5,550,991 $5,337,148 $342,468 N $6,423,143 $27,244 $5,344 $561,789 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $6,218,480 $5,545,761 $4,357,850 $408,709 N $6,120,525 $7,910 $2,129 $423,667 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $5,587,651 $6,283,790 $3,974,110 $697,688 N $5,490,221 $49,006 $6,415 $444,227 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $5,013,159 $6,043,042 $4,633,354 $660,793 N $4,909,077 $31,930 $8,804 $431,924 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $5,844,652 $6,727,718 $5,790,751 $788,307 N $5,730,945 $49,594 $3,788 $1,131,208 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Economic Policy Institute (EPI)

    1225 EYE ST NW 600
    WASHINGTON, DC 20005-5960