Why can’t retail workers make ends meet? As retail companies move to a part-time workforce, retail workers are juggling last-minute assignments and schedules that change from week to week. Unpredictable schedules make it hard to get a second job, arrange childcare, or go to school.

CUP worked with the Retail Action Project (RAP), and designers Joshua Graver and Maxwell Sorensen to make a short animation about the changing scheduling practices in the retail industry. Shifty Business helps retail workers understand that their experiences are not isolated events, but a systemic approach to cost-cutting by their employers. It also helps policy makers see the effect these practices have on workers’ lives.

RAP is using the video in their campaign to organize for a fair workweek, push for corporate accountability, and pass stronger city and state legislation. Shifty Business was projected onto a building at RAP’s May Day rally in SoHo on May 1, and officially premiered at the Workers Unite Film Festival on May 12, 2014.

Resources & Links

Retail Action Project (RAP) is an organization of retail workers dedicated to improving opportunities and workplace standards in the retail industry. RAP supports retail workers’ path towards career security through job training, services, and workplace organizing.

Joshua Graver is a Brooklyn-based graphic designer that focuses on art direction, branding, motion graphics, print and web design, soundtracking, and problem solving.

Maxwell Sorensen is a Brooklyn- and sometimes Philadelphia-based director and animator specializing in stop-motion animation, traditional puppetry, and a handmade aesthetic. 

Public Access Design is a program of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). Public Access Design projects use design to make complex urban issues accessible to the New Yorkers most affected by them. 

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by The Rockefeller Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation Fund; and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Special Thanks

Pema Domingo-Barker, Naoki Fujita, Sam Holleran, Justin Hamano, Stephanie Luce, Valeria Mogilevich, Nicole Pivirotto, Mark Torrey


  • CUP
  • Project Leads
  • Clara Amenyo
  • Christine Gaspar
      • Retail Action Project
      • Advocacy Partner
        • Yana Walton
        • Dolly Martinez
        • Onieka O’Kieffe
        • Carrie Gleason
        • Jonathan Cartagena
        • Darrah Sipe
        • Sasha Hammad

        • RWDSU
        • Advocacy Partner
      • Joshua Graver
      • Maxwell Sorensen
      • Design & Animation
    • Joshua Graver
    • Music