New Website Exposes Berkeley Labor Team for its Research Biases
Public records suggest Berkeley researchers are pursuing ideological goals rather than academic ones
Publication Date: September 2019
Topics: Minimum Wage
Washington D.C. – Today, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) launched Biased Berkeley, which highlights the biases and lack of independence of a team of labor researchers at the University of California-Berkeley.
This team of researchers–comprised of members of Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research & Education (Labor Center) and the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics (CWED)–are often treated as independent scholars providing a neutral point of view on wage- and labor-related policy debates. Biased Berkeley presents public records, funding data, and empirical research to document how the Berkeley team has worked closely with labor groups to promote research with conclusions that don’t match reality.
- Berkeley’s team has sought funding explicitly tied to promoting higher minimum wages. In the Bay Area, for instance, Berkeley’s Ken Jacobs sought financial support to provide “(technical assistance) work for local groups engaged in work to raise the minimum wage,” as well as “testimony/media work around the issue in the East Bay.”
- In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s staff approached the Berkeley team to produce a study demonstrating how a minimum wage “will help labor and the economy in general.” The Berkeley team reciprocated, turning in a report to meet the Mayor’s political goals. The research team was subsequently the source of controversy; after it was selected to conduct a supposedly-neutral analysis of a $15 minimum wage proposal, Councilmember Filipe Fuentes said: “the selection of U.C. Berkeley, by perception, compromises the possibility of a fair and balanced discussion.”
- In Seattle, when a city-funded team of researchers were set to release a study critical of the city’s $15 minimum wage experiment, then-Mayor Ed Murray approached the Berkeley team about producing a competing study. As the city’s alt-weekly magazine wrote at the time, “The City Knew The Bad Minimum Wage Report Was Coming Out, So It Called Up Berkeley.” Berkeley’s Michael Reich was given a political timetable to meet, and coordinated with the Mayor’s press shop to ensure maximum visibility.