Shaun Richman

Shaun Richman is an expert on workers rights and Program Director of the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies at SUNY Empire State College.

Recent Articles

Staten Island Goes Purple

Democrat Max Rose ousts its Republican congressman, no thanks to its ossified Democratic machine. 

Bill Lyons/Staten Island Advance via AP, Pool Democratic Representative-elect for New York's 11th Congressional District Max Rose in a debate with incumbent Daniel Donovan V oters on Staten Island—long the only Republicn corner of New York City—have turned their Republican Congressman Dan Donovan out of office. New York’s 11th District—which the island shares with a couple of neighborhoods across the Verrazanno Bridge in Brooklyn—was the last part of the city to be represented by a Republican in the U.S. House. Although Democrats in the district outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin , Donald Trump won 58 percent of the vote there in 2016. The President retains some popular support on the island, his policies less so. The surprising victory of Democrat Max Rose signals that Staten Island is genuinely a swing district—something that New York Democrats have precious little experience with. The combination of gerrymandering and “ big sort ” demographic shifts created a sort of district...

Take This Bullshit Job and Pretend to Love It

David Graeber's new book explores why millions of people's labor seems divorced from meaning or value.  

KieferPix/Shutterstock T he British economist Joan Robinson once remarked, “The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.” What kind of misery is it, then, if your particular form of exploitation is being asked to do nothing particularly useful? David Graeber explores this question in his thought-provoking and hilarious new book, Bullshit Jobs . Five years ago, he wrote an essay for the radical magazine Strike! , asking why people in the United States and England are not working the 15-hour weeks that John Maynard Keynes had predicted would be the result of technological advancement? In our post-scarcity society, he argued, only a tiny fraction of the population actually has to labor in order to provide for the material needs of all. “It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working,” he wrote. The essay went viral. Millions of people read it and thousands wrote him to...

Republicans Are Hard at Work to Turn Staten Island Blue

The Trump faithful in the only GOP quadrant of New York City may go for an ex-con Steve Bannon guy in June’s Republican primary.

(Dennis Van Tine/Sipa USA via AP Images)
(Dennis Van Tine/Sipa USA via AP Images) Former Representative Michael Grimm, a Staten Island Republican who went to jail for felony tax fraud, announces his candidacy for his old job on October 1, 2017. I s Donald Trump an albatross around the neck of congressional Republicans? By appealing to his base and embracing the polarizing strategies that he has brought to new heights, will they cost themselves the last few swing districts in Trump-abhorring blue states? We New Yorkers might have the best view of the GOP’s struggle to stay afloat in America’s big cities right here on Staten Island. Republican Dan Donovan, who has represented New York’s 11th Congressional District for all of a term and a half, is in the fight of his political life in the June 26 GOP primary. Our ex-con ex-Congressman, Republican Michael Grimm—fresh out of jail—is running against Donovan to reclaim his old job. Grimm has gone full fascist in order to win the backing of former White House consigliere Stephen...

Want to Really Help Workers? Protect their Speech!

Americans’ First Amendment rights should apply to American workers. 

AP Photo/Mike Groll
AP Photo/Mike Groll Mark Emanatian, of Citizen Action of New York, speaks during a rally for a $15 an hour wage in Albany. W hen does free speech stop being free? At the entranceway of one's job, apparently. That was the implication of a ruling this month from the Eighth Circuit Court, which found that the sandwich conglomerate Jimmy John’s was within its rights to fire six employees for making signs that protested the company’s policy of forcing workers to come to work when ill. While the decision came as a surprise to many, the logic underlying it—that employees have few, if any, free speech protections on the job—has had devastating impacts on American workers for decades. Indeed, the dramatic drop in union representation is due in part to the fact that our court system regulates employees’ ability to organize by the impact of their organizing on businesses’ bottom line, devoid of any concern for the free speech or civil rights of workers. Until we ensure that freedom of speech...