Jeff Rae
Jeff Rae
Sylvia Jarrus
Rita Harper
Sara Terry

Featuring: Chloe Aftel, Rita Harper, Sylvia Jarrus, Octavio Jones, Stacy Kranitz, Jeff Rae, Sara Terry

After decades of rising inequality, unions are more popular than they have been in half a century in the United States. However, the reality of unions’ standing is decidedly mixed.

In the middle of the 20th century, one in three American workers was a union member. Today, only one in ten is — despite tens of millions of working people say they would join a union if they could. The changing face of unions is complicated by the “gig economy.” It’s also geographic; though organized labor wields great power in certain places, it is nearly nonexistent in others.

The six projects in this exhibition capture the range of organized labor’s power in America today — where it is strong, where it is growing, and where workers who fall through the cracks are forced to find creative ways to fend for themselves. They reflect the diversity of American labor: demographically, economically, and geographically.

The projects here include looking at teacher’s unions in Florida, domestic workers in California, a unique re-entry program in New York that trains formerly incarcerated people for skilled union construction work, retail union organizers in the South, the United Autoworkers and the impact of its robust new contract on the lives of union members, and a historical look at labor organizing in Los Angeles.

The true story of unions in America is one of hopeful progress mixed with frustrating decline.


About the Artists

Chloe Aftel (she/they) is a non-binary director and photographer based in California. For over a decade Chloe has documented minority groups with a focus on female-identified, non-binary and trans communities, most notably in her award-winning book Outside & In Between that explores life beyond the gender binary. Working in both motion and stills across portraiture, reportage, personal projects, and advertising, Chloe illuminates the roles of gender, identity and sexuality including inhabiting a body that is treated as other.

Rita Harper is a visual journalist from Atlanta, Georgia. With no formal art education, she began to take to the streets of Atlanta and discover a style of her own, and received several grants and awards. She quickly realized the affinity she had for capturing Black life and Atlanta culture simultaneously. It is her goal to show the beauty of the everyday person. She has captured images of everyone from unsung pillars of tight-knit communities, to regular people fighting against powerful, faceless corporations. She wishes to amplify the voices and narratives of everyday Black souls, as a reminder that all our lives have purpose, importance, and value. You do not have to be famous to have a story worth telling.

Sylvia Jarrus (she/her) is a freelance photographer and photo editor based in Detroit, Michigan. Her work focuses on highlighting social justice issues within historically underrepresented communities and revealing intimacy and connection between people and the spaces they live in. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University in 2020 and previously interned at The Seattle Times, The Post, and Courier.

Octavio Jones is an independent photojournalist living in Florida and frequent contributor to WUSF. Prior to going independent, he worked for the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) for nearly 10 years. Jones is a native of Washington D.C., but spent an extensive amount of his life in North Carolina and is a proud HBCU graduate of Saint Augustine’s College (now Saint Augustine’s University) in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jones has a passion for telling the stories of marginalized communities through photographs. He also has an innate curiosity and drive for human connection that compels him to document the lives of individuals, frequently highlighting the challenges and effects of poverty.

Jeff Rae is a trade unionist and photographer living in New York City. He was raised in a Teamster household outside of Philadelphia where he got his start photographing punk rock shows and political rallies.

Sara Terry is a member of VII Photo and is a Guggenheim Fellow in Photography. She is also the founder and director of The Aftermath Project.


  • Mother Jones

    Mother Jones

    Mother Jones is a reader-supported investigative news organization. Founded in 1976, Mother Jones is America’s longest-established investigative news organization. We are independent and are accountable only to our readers. Our mission is to deliver hard-hitting reporting that inspires change and combats “alternative facts.”

  • The Economic Hardship Reporting Project (EHRP)

    The Economic Hardship Reporting Project (EHRP)

    The Economic Hardship Reporting Projects supports independent journalists so they can create gripping stories which often counter the typical disparaging narratives about inequality. This high-quality journalism is then co-published with mainstream media outlets mobilizing readers to address systemic economic hardship.

  • Magnum Foundation

    Magnum Foundation

    Magnum Foundation expands creativity and diversity in visual storytelling, activating new audiences and ideas through the innovative use of images. Through grants, mentorship, and creative collaborations, we partner with socially engaged imagemakers exploring new models for storytelling. Since our founding in 2007 by members of the Magnum Photos cooperative, we have made more than 600 direct grants to visual storytellers from over 80 countries. To find out about upcoming exhibitions and events, learn about grant opportunities, or join our community of support, please visit

Can American Labor Seize the Moment?

 coming soon

Featuring: Various Artists

Curated by: Mark Murrmann

Presented by: Mother Jones, Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and Magnum Foundation
  • Mother Jones
  • The Economic Hardship Reporting Project (EHRP)
  • Magnum Foundation


ON VIEW AT: PhotoCross 48

View Location Details Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza

1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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This location is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
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Supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project’s Frances Fox Piven Labor Fund.

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