Originally posted by the Economic Security Project
The Anti-Monopoly Fund is thrilled to announce its second round of investments to 14 organizations to bolster the ongoing fight against monopoly power in every facet of our economy, democracy, and society. Bloomberg has the exclusive on our announcement here.
Ahead of Wednesday’s high-stakes House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing with CEOs from Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, our second round of support comes at a critical juncture in the anti-monopoly fight. COVID-19, the economic fallout, and the historic reckoning with racism are exposing the myriad ways that monopolies wield outsized power — from their ability to manipulate the marketplace at the expense of small businesses to the ways that their business models rely on the exploitation of Black and brown lives. Against this landscape, there is growing momentum to hold powerful leaders to account for the impact their companies have on our democracy and economy. Grassroots power is increasingly mobilizing against outsized corporate power; there is growing interest from Congress in reining in monopoly power; and a new survey finds that 72 percent of U.S. adults agree that social media companies have too much power and influence in politics today.
Our investments reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with strategies to increase the pressure inside and outside DC, expand the constituencies speaking out about the impact of monopoly power, and center the experience of individuals whose resources — whether it be money, wealth, labor, data, or another form of capital — are extracted by monopolists. The goal is to demonstrate the scale of indisputable real-world harms that demand government interventions to counter monopolies and the unfair, privileged positions they maintain in our economy. In total, the Economic Security Project and Economic Security Project Action invests $1,625,000 across 14 organizations in this second round.
Some of our grantees have long known that these harms have visceral, tangible consequences on local economies and people’s lives. The Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice (IIPSJ) will organize entrepreneurs and small business owners from communities of color around platform policies that impede competition, with a focus on antitrust and intellectual property law. The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) will educate, train, and support small business owners to keep an eye out for potential antitrust violations.
As the economy contracts and employers consolidate power, interventions in the form of litigation using the existing laws on the books will be crucial. That’s why we’re supporting Towards Justice to pursue creative litigation strategies to tackle anticompetitive practices in the labor market, such as wage suppression and non-competes and Public Rights Project to identify high-impact legal cases for state and local governments to pursue to eliminate the gap between the values expressed in our laws and the lived reality of communities.
We’re also seeding new work that will highlight the impact of market concentration on communities of color. We’re thrilled to partner with Liberation in a Generation to explore an anti-monopoly policy platform informed by grassroots organizers that will benefit Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative to create a body of data-driven evidence documenting the effects of monopoly and monopsony on communities of color.
Many grantees in this second slate are playing an instrumental role in calling out Big Tech at this pivotal moment when the simultaneous crises have culminated in an opportunity for Congress to intervene at the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing. In addition to our investment in IIPSJ, the American Economic Liberties Project, launched just earlier this year, will spearhead new advocacy and campaigns to curtail further market consolidation and to keep corporations from entrenching their economic and political power; Open Markets Institute will employ research and legal strategies to dissect the risks monopolies pose to society; and Demand Progress will help bridge grassroots organizing and Hill advocacy efforts.
The following statement can be attributed to Chris Hughes, co-chair of the Economic Security Project:
“The upcoming Congressional hearing involving CEOs from America’s biggest tech companies is a much-needed step toward oversight of an industry with virtually none of the checks on power required of other major businesses. These companies have been allowed to grow exponentially into monopolies that write their own rules and stifle entrepreneurship. Americans have suffered the consequences of this crisis of accountability in our democracy, civility and public trust. We should not rely on any corporation to self-regulate, and I’m grateful political leaders are transcending party lines to take action and curtail the undue power and influence of these corporations.”
While the spotlight this next week will be on Big Tech, the growing backlash spans all sectors of the economy. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed urgency to the pharma and healthcare sectors, with groups like PrEP4All and I-MAK mobilizing quickly to rein in the monopoly power of drug manufacturers to ensure that patients have equitable access to affordable life-saving treatments. We also support the US PIRG Right to Repair campaign in its efforts to break up ventilator manufacturers’ monopolization of the repair market. We’re looking forward to exploring innovative strategies to bolster the anti-monopoly fights in other parts of the economy, too.
With this second slate of investments, we continue to broaden the anti-monopoly toolkit beyond just antitrust. New research demonstrates that tax avoidance has led to a 25 percent increase in concentrated markets since the mid 1990’s, showing that policy levers beyond antitrust have a clear impact on competition. That’s why we’re supporting the Roosevelt Institute in its work on how corporate governance and the U.S. tax code create incentives for increasing monopoly power.
These efforts reinforce key campaign, narrative, research, and advocacy strategies that we’ve double downed on in our first round of investments. They complement efforts targeting monopolies at large and in variety of sectors ranging from tech, finance, and more, driven by the 16 organizations in our first slate: Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), Adamant Media, Athena Coalition, Color of Change, Coworker.org, Creative Action Network (CAN), Inequality Media, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Freedom from Facebook & Google, Law and Political Economy Project, Museum of Capitalism, Open Markets Institute, Public Knowledge, Revolving Door Project, Thurman Arnold Project, and Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
Just to highlight a few activities from this first cohort: ACRE is calling attention to how Big Banks profit off “police brutality bonds;” Color of Change is pushing Facebook as a partner in the Stop Hate for Profit ad boycott campaign; the Creative Action Network launched face masks for essential workers with anti-monopoly messaging that will sell under a buy one, donate one model; the Institute for Local Self-Reliance published a toolkit outlining anti-monopoly tools at the state and local levels; the Law and Political Economy Project launched its inaugural Anti-Monopoly and Regulated Industries Summer Academy with over 300 participants; and the Revolving Door Project wrote about the need for public servants at our antitrust enforcement agencies to be free from corporate interests.
There’s more at stake in this fight than ever before, as the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout lay bare the vulnerabilities of an economy driven by monopolies. We’re proud to support this impressive cohort of groups in leading the way.
American Economic Liberties Project
The American Economic Liberties Project advances policy ideas, builds political will, develops compelling communications narratives, and executes collaborative, high-impact strategies to address concentrated economic power and advance economic liberties for all. Since launching in February 2020, Economic Liberties has quickly become a leading voice in Washington on the problem of corporate power, driving advocacy and communications strategies to lift up solutions to challenges ranging from Facebook, Google, and Amazon to the ways in which policymakers’ response to COVID-19 is augmenting corporate and financial power. With support from the Anti-Monopoly Fund, Economic Liberties will accelerate work to develop accessible, solutions-oriented policy ideas on top-of-the-agenda issues, while cultivating new, cross-cutting networks, including with local and state stakeholders, movement groups, and the small business community, to help inform and popularize them.
American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA)
The American Independent Business Alliance’s (AMIBA) strengths stem from encompassing more than 60 local Independent Business Alliances across the country with distinct and innovative leadership, representing over 20,000 independent business owners that provide crucial grassroots support; and maintaining the capacity to deploy resources on both nationwide and local bases as needed. The vast networks of local businesses that comprise AMIBA support each other and contribute to the vitality of their communities.
AMIBA is well positioned to detect antitrust violations. Involved in a broad array of industries, the 20,000 small-business members can uncover potential antitrust violations if they are sufficiently educated about tell-tale signs of anticompetitive conduct. The content of the education would consist of providing a basic overview of antitrust law (in layman’s terms) and describing specific, visible indicators of various antitrust violations. The latter would involve informing members of exactly how to identify potential Section 1 and Section 2 violations of the Sherman Act.
To create thriving local economies in the post-COVID pandemic stage, AMIBA is proposing to pilot, refine, and distribute a new “business retention and expansion” strategy that places racial equity at the center. We want to activate and empower our local business alliances to leverage their unique perspectives to pilot a new model for economic development.
For thirty years, The American Prospect has employed narrative journalism to reveal the effects of decisions in Washington on everyday life. Through print and online, the Prospect helps readers understand how power really works in America, from Congress to the corporate boardroom, and how that power can be given back to the people.
With the support of the Anti-Monopoly Fund, the Prospect will expand our work on the role of monopoly in everyday life, with investigative pieces that explore the concentration of corporate power in different areas of the economy. These stories take on renewed urgency in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which is likely to consolidate sectors of the economy even further. Monopolization has made America less prepared to handle the pandemic, and more susceptible to profiteering from big companies in its wake. The series will build a record of this historical moment, and provide the tools for readers to recognize the dangers of monopoly in America.
Demand Progress and their two million affiliated activists seek to protect the democratic character of the internet — and wield it to render government accountable, protect civil liberties and human rights, and contest concentrated corporate power. To forward these causes they employ a variety of tactics, including policy development, lobbying, mass mobilization, research, writing, and engagement with the media. Under this grant, Demand Progress will continue its efforts to contest the power of the dominant online platforms and to otherwise combat concentrated corporate power and its deleterious impacts on the economy, governance, and our broader society. In particular, they will make policy recommendations and will engage in grassroots mobilization and direct advocacy related to relevant investigations, proceedings, and legislative efforts — and they will work to promote progressive personnel for government positions.
Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality’s Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative
The Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI ESOI) engages in research, policy analysis, and idea development to alleviate poverty and inequality, advance racial and gender equity, and expand economic inclusion for all of the United States. GCPI ESOI’s approach to research consistently blends qualitative and quantitative analysis, develops new frameworks, and extensively engages experts and stakeholders, including people with lived experience. With support from the Economic Security Project’s Anti-Monopoly Fund, GCPI ESOI is conducting research on the impact of market concentration, monopoly power, and labor monopsony on people of color and low-income consumers and workers.
Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice
The Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice (IIPSJ) works to address the social justice implications of intellectual property systems domestically and globally. IPSJ works to promote policy that empowers marginalized communities to share, protect, and monetize their work.
An important aspect of their work is to promote small business owners and entrepreneurs from marginalized communities. Small businesses are a pillar of capitalism and a healthy economy — they provide a path into the middle and upper classes. This road map to prosperity and community leadership is especially important within communities of color. As e-commerce in the United States is increasingly dominated by a smaller number of platforms, they work to ensure that small business owners and entrepreneurs of color have an infrastructure to 1) advocate on issues that directly impact their ability to compete online and 2) share their stories of success and struggle in a time where most of their sales have been forced online.
I-MAK is advocating for a more just patent system.Their team of former private sector lawyers and scientists has successfully litigated against some of the world’s biggest drugmakers, unlocking more than $2 billion in savings for low- and middle-income countries who can now get lifesaving medicines to millions more people. In the U.S., their hard-hitting investigations have exposed the unjust ways the patent system spurs high drug prices and harms marginalized communities.
We used to believe that patents were fair rewards for inventors. But we now know the patent system has been distorted over time; today, it is the root source of the pharmaceutical industry’s economic power, used to inflate profits and control medicines markets. With ESP’s support, I-MAK is changing the narrative around patents and dismantling the hierarchy of health that it helps create.
Liberation in a Generation
Liberation in a Generation is a national movement support organization building the power of people of color to totally transform the economy — who controls it, how it works, and most importantly, for whom. They bring together economists, advocates, community organizers, and other proven and emerging leaders of color across the country to build a Liberation Economy, within one generation. Liberation in a Generation is incubating at PolicyLink. Liberation in a Generation will develop a policy position paper that explores the impacts of corporate concentration on people of color. and makes recommendations for what topics grassroots organizers should prioritize for policy advocacy.
Open Markets Institute
The Open Markets Institute is a team of journalists, researchers, lawyers, historians, and advocates working to protect our democracy, our prosperity, and the stability of vital international systems from threats posed by dangerous concentrations of economic power and control. Open Markets has been a leader in elevating the problem of monopolies in the national debate on corporate concentration and inequality. They see a growing recognition in public conversation and among lawmakers of the problem of big monopolies, especially Big Tech, and the urgent need to tackle their threat to our democracy and economy but more remains to be done. Our first grant to Open Markets focused on public opinion research. This grant will support their research, advocacy and legal work to analyze and elevate the problem of monopoly across the economy, in sectors like healthcare, energy, agriculture, and even national security as well as its impact on technology innovation and how it exacerbates structural discrimination. It will accelerate the efforts led by Open Markets’ Center on Journalism and Liberty on countering monopolization’s impact on a core pillar of democracy, a free and strong press and other forms of expression and communication in the public square.
The PrEP4All Collaboration is an activist group aimed at getting life-saving medications into the hands of the people who need them. Founded in 2018, PrEP4All takes on pharmaceutical companies that profiteer off of epidemics like HIV and COVID-19, charging irrationally high markups on drugs that are often developed by the federal government using taxpayer dollars. By challenging these monopolies and advocating for government intervention for the benefit of public health, PrEP4All aims to spur generic competition and lower drug prices, thereby creating universal access to medicines and ending some of the United States’ most pressing public health problems.
With an express focus on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) at launch, PrEP4All has expanded its efforts to include ensuring access to COVID-19 therapeutics and preventatives. With support from the Anti-Monopoly Fund, PrEP4All develops policy reports and hard-hitting media publications to pressure agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to use their existing statutory authority and break up pharmaceutical monopolies, thereby increasing generic competition and driving down drug prices. Much of their work targets Gilead Sciences, the only manufacturer of HIV PrEP and COVID-19 drug remdesivir in the United States.
Public Rights Project
Public Rights Project works at the intersection of community organizing and government enforcement, with a specific focus on catalyzing equitable and community-based enforcement to protect residents’ legal rights. They work to achieve this mission by training attorney fellows to catalyze the proactive work of government law offices; providing strategic support in legal strategy, research, partnerships and data analytics to help offices develop high-impact legal cases; and designing and spreading community outreach and organizing approaches that empower community residents and advocates to be active partners in an enforcement agenda rooted in equity.
With support from the Anti-Monopoly Fund, Public Rights Project will develop legal case pitches for their extensive partner network of public law offices across the country — including over a dozen state attorneys general — to combat corporate power and its effects on workers, tenants, and consumers. They will also work with community-based organizations and academic thought partners to brainstorm and vet potential topics, with an emphasis on cases that will address the needs of low-income communities of color and other marginalized groups.
The Roosevelt Institute is working to drive a progressive economic agenda that demonstrates how we can respond to today’s challenges in a way that creates lasting, structural economic change. As leaders focus on COVID-19 response and recovery, we have an opportunity to make fundamental rules changes that remake the way our economy operates — and for whom it operates — in order to build an economy that works for the good of all.
Roosevelt will continue to demonstrate to key audiences and stakeholders how the dysfunction in our economy — including its ability to respond to large-scale health and economic crises — is driven by a concentration of power with the wealthiest and an erosion of government as a countervailing force. This includes working to advance an agenda aimed at ensuring more dynamic, competitive, and worker- and small-business focused markets through our work on corporate power and economic policy. They will continue their work to advance policy ideas to fight monopolies and corporate concentration, such as exploring how the U.S. tax code facilitates monopoly growth and outlining ideas to increase revenue and fairness; and strengthening the case for how shareholder-focused corporate governance hurts workers and the economy and developing new elements of corporate governance reform.
Towards Justice is a non-profit law firm dedicated to representing workers and consumers in challenging systemic impediments to worker power and economic and racial justice. With the support of the Anti-Monopoly Fund, Towards Justice will seek to launch creative impact litigation to attack monopsony power and anti-competitive practices in the labor market. Towards Justice will focus in particular on cases that may shape the law to make it more protective of workers, cases that challenge widespread and systemic practices that are unlikely to be challenged by the private bar or public enforcers, cases that change the conversation about monopsonies and anticompetitive practices, and cases that support worker-led organizing.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund Right to Repair Campaign
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group, with state affiliates across the country, that works to stand up for the public interest whenever our health, rights or democracy are at risk. Along with its sister organization, U.S. PIRG, the organization has been at the forefront of the Right to Repair campaign, which seeks to break open repair monopolies.
When the only company that can fix a product — whether it’s tablet, a tractor or even a ventilator — is the original manufacturer, they can charge whatever they want to fix that product, or they can deny repair and push the customer to “upgrade.” As the COVID-19 crisis hit, it became clear that medical device manufacturers’ restrictions on the repair market was undermining hospital response including preventing the repair of usable ventilators. PIRG’s campaign seeks to organize hospital repair professionals, part of the frontline workforce, to force manufacturers to provide access to critical parts, service instructions and service keys. Already the campaign has forced notable concessions, including the release of GE ventilator service manuals. The campaign also seeks to expand Right to Repair reforms to enable more computer refurbishing to help address the digital divide.