Richard Bermack  
putting a human face on complex social issues

Selected Credits


Organized Labor, a publication of the San Francisco Building Trades

Monthly column, On the Job Site, involves going out to construction sites, photographing and interviewing people. 2007 to present.

The SEIU Local 535 Dragon

Photography, writing, design, and production, in both print and web versions, of newspaper for Local 535, which represents 27,000 welfare workers, social workers, health care workers, and other public employees throughout California. The Dragon was recognized as an authoritative publication about social services and the website received over 100,000 hits a month. 1996 to 2003.

Documentary Projects

The Front Lines of Social Change: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

A book of portraits, archival photos, and text documenting the vibrancy that comes from a lifetime of activism, based on the Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1938.Published by Heyday Press, February 2005.

Heroes of Social Work

A photographic and writen travleing exhibit documenting how social services can make a difference in peoples' lives, part of an effort to improve children’s services by a coalition that included the Service Employees International Union, the National Association of Social Workers, the California County Welfare Directors Association, the California Department of Social Services, the University of California School of Social Welfare, and the Chair of the California Assembly Committee on Human Services.

Protecting Children, Restoring Families, It takes Time

A report on the state of children’s services in California, published by the California County Welfare Directors Association and Service Employees International Union and presented to state legislators.

The Sephardim of Madrid

A photographic exhibit documenting Jews who returned to Spain and the creation of a new Spanish-Jewish community in Madrid, 500 years after the inquisition and expulsion. The exhibit was produced under the auspices of the Judah Magnus Museum and the Jewish Film Festival.

Children's Protective Services

A TV documentary co-produced for the TV series We Do The Work, shown nationally on over 40 PBS stations, 1991.

Cracked Lives , Voices from the Shadows

Photographs and interviews about the crack-cocaine culture. Began with one of the first published stories about crack babies and the Mandela House, a drug rehabilitation center for pregnant women addicted to crack-cocaine, as a feature story in the Express, July 1988. Contributions to The Hidden Apparatus Is at Us, an exhibit on the war on drugs at Artists Television Access, January 1990. Excerpts published in The Troubadour, an anthology including literary works by Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners Nadine Gordimer, Czeslaw Milosz, A.S. Bhyatt, and Annie Dillard, 1995.

Housing of Last Resort: The Hotel Liberty and the Baldwin

Photographs and interviews of residents of the last two low-income hotels in downtown Oakland. Faced with redevelopment and eviction, the tenants went on rent strike and refused to move. I worked for 18 months with Jeffrey Carter, the lawyer representing the tenants, documenting the efforts to fight redevelopment and for the preservation of low-income housing. Book in progress. Feature story, " Battle for the Baldwin," Express, September 1987. Exhibit at the Eye Gallery in San Francisco and at Pro Arts in Oakland. Winner of the Media Alliance Photography award, 1988.

Radical Elders Oral History Project

A group project, oral histories and photography of people at least 60 years old who have dedicated their lives to the struggles for social change. 1976-1984.

Frayed Collar: The Struggle for a Democratic Union

Photographs and oral history of Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 29, documenting the Blue Cross organizing campaign and strike in 1977 and the internal struggle for democracy within that union. Local 29 had been one of the most conservative, autocratic business unions in the area until a group of rank-and-file women, aided by several male business reps, organized and transformed it into a progressive and militant union. A bitter 10- year fight climaxed with the organization of 1200 clerical workers at Blue Cross and their strike, demonstrating the organizing potential of women, clerical workers, and rank and file unionism. Project was funding in part by a CETA grant. 1977-1979.


2009 "The Men Along the Shore and the Legacy of 1934," San Francisco Public Library, History Center. Traveling exhibit about the history of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

2006 "The Front Lines of Social Change: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade." King Juan Carlos Center, New York University.

2003 "At Work: The Art of California Labor," a traveling group exhibition organized by the California Exhibition Resources Alliance and produced by the California Historical Society and the San Francisco State University Art Gallery.

2002 "Heroes of Social Work," an exhibit about the value of social work, launched at the California State Capital by California First Lady Sharon Davis. Shown at various venues around the state, including Department of Social Services buildings, universities, and social work conferences.

2001 "The Whole World Is Watching," traveling group show about peace and social justice movements in California, developed by and first shown at the Berkeley Art Center.

1994 Service Employees International Union Local 535 30th Birthday.

1994 "A pesar de todo: In Spite of Everything," a group show supporting the fight to end the US blockade of Cuba. Mission Cultural Center, San Francisco.

1993 "The Sephardim of Madrid," an exhibit about Spanish Jews who returned to Spain 500 years after the inquisition. Judah Magnus Museum-Hillel, Berkeley, California.

1990 "The Hidden Apparatus Is at Us," and "Who Is the Landlord?" Group art shows at Artists Television Access.

1989 "Window on The County," Service Employees International Union, Locals 616, 535, 790, exhibit about county workers, widely exhibited at county offices, hospitals, libraries, and other work sites throughout Alameda County.

1988 "Housing of Last Resort," Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland.

1987 "The Hotel Liberty: Housing of Last Resort," The Eye Gallery, San Francisco.

1986 "The Hotel Liberty: Housing of Last Resort," La Pena Cultural Center, Berkeley.

1986 "Portraits of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade," exhibited at the 50th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Berkeley Community Theater.

1985 "The Union Hall Show," annual group show touring local labor union halls, 1981-1985.

1984 "Faces," group show at Euphrat Gallery, De Anza College, Cupertino.

1983 "Das Andere Amerika" (The Other America: Art and Culture of the American Working Class), group exhibit featuring over 2,000 works on American working class culture, including photographs by Lewis Hine, Ben Shahn, Jacob Riis, and Earl Dotter. This exhibit opened in West Berlin and traveled to Hamburg, Rome, and throughout Europe. It has been viewed by over 100,000 people.

1982 "Winter Soldiers: Photographs from the Radical Elders Oral History Project," Modern Times Bookstore, San Francisco.

1982 State Capital, Office of the Governor of California, Sacramento, "Art and Aging," exhibit sponsored by the California Arts Council.

1981 "Images of Aging," group show at Berkeley Art Center.

1980 "Winter Soldiers," photographs from the Radical Elders Oral History Project, La Pena Cultural Center, Berkeley.

1976 "County Workers Strike," exhibited at the offices of Service Employees International Union Local 616.

1975 "Serving the Community," photographs documenting Bishop's Coffeehouse and senior citizens' programs. Kaiser Center, Oakland.

1974 "Men and Women Working in Non-Traditional Roles," Bishop's Coffeehouse and Community Center, Oakland.

Video Projects

1991-1992 "Kid Shields," a documentary about children's protective services workers, and "Hotel of Hope," a documentary about low-income housing for homeless people. Coproduced for the public television series, We Do the Work, shown nationally on over 40 PBS stations.


2003-2004 Taught photography to SEIU Local 250 health care workers and produced exhibit of their work at Oakland City Hall and at the SEIU International Convention as part of Unseen America/Bread and Roses project.


Alameda County Neighborhood Arts Project, community photographer, CETA grant, 1978.


The Bancroft Historical Library of the University of California at Berkeley, call number 1977.15.11 phot.

Exhibit Catalogues

The Whole World Is Watching , Berkeley Arts Center, Berkeley, California, 2001.

Faces , Jan Rindfleisch, Euphrat Gallery, Cupertino, California, 1984.

Das Andere Amerika, (The Other America: The Art and Culture of the American Working Class ), Philip S. Foner and Reinhard Schultz, NGBK, West Berlin, 1983.

Calendar Portfolio

1983 Human Rights Calendar , published by the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute.

Slide Shows

Environmental Health and Safety, University of California, photographs for slide shows on asbestos hazards and lab safety, 1985.

"On Our Own Time," collaborative slide show about scientific management, 1977.

Interviews and Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle, interview by Rick DelVecchio, 2005

Berkeley Daily Planet, interview by Richard Brenneman, 2005

Noe Valley Voice , interview by Irene Kane, 1982.

"Artwaves," 15-minute interview on cable TV hosted by Barbara Kossy, 1981.

Work and Assignments


Action (national publication of Service Employees International Union),Solidarity (publication of the United Auto Workers), Office Worker Update, (publication of Service Employees International Union), Time Magazine, Express, Seven Days, Tempo (German picture publication), Kommunal Arbetaren (publication of the Municipal Workers of Sweden), Union WAGE, East Bay Voice, Alternative Health Magazine

Labor Unions

Service Employees International Union, United Automobile Workers, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees 1695, Office and Professional Employees Union 29, Clerical and Allied Service Employees, American Federation of Teachers, International Longshore and Warehousemens Union, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Community Organizations

Public Media Center, Jewish Film Festival, the Berkeley Sister Cities Project of El Salvador, the Perinatal Network of Alameda/Contra Costa, the Hawkins Center of Law Services for the Disabled, Theatre Bay Area, Citizen's Policy Center, Coalition for the Medical Rights of Women, Committee to Defeat Proposition 63 (the English-only initiative), Bishop's Coffeehouse and Community Center, Pacifica radio station KPFA, the Moving Men Theater Company, Jewish Children and Family Services of the East Bay, the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center, Department of Environmental Health and Safety of the University of California at Berkeley, Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Library, Oakland Housing Department, and the National Association of Social Workers of Northern California.

Other Photo Contributions


Solidarity, ILWU Dispatcher, New York Times, Associated Press, California Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Berkeley Barb, East Bay Express.

Books and Pamphlets

Images of American Radicalism , Paul Buhle and Edmund B. Sullivan, The Christopher Publishing House, 1998.

Occupational Stress Groups & the Psychodynamics of the World of Work , Dr. Michael Lerner, The Institute for Labor and Mental Health, Oakland, California, 1985.

Push Out, Step Out: A Report on California's Public School Drop-Outs , Laurie Olsen, et al., Citizen's Policy Center, 1982.

Issues for the '80s, Ann Fagan Ginger, Just Books, Berkeley, 1981.

Safe Natural Remedies for Discomforts of Pregnancy , Over-the-Counter-Drug Committee of the Coalition for the Medical Rights of Woman (cover photo), 1981.

History of Work Cooperation in America, John Curl, Homeward Press, Berkeley, 1980.

Thursday's Child, edited by Ed Robbin, Glen Press, Berkeley (cover photo), 1979.

The Women Say/The Men Say, Evelyn Shapiro and Barry Shapiro, Delta, New York, 1979.

Women Organizing the Office , The Women's Work Project, Women in Distribution, Washington, D.C., 1978.

SEIU Strike Handbook , 1977.

Insurrection Resurrection, Working People's Artists, 1975.

Professional Associations

International Labor Communicators Association

Media Alliance: steering committee member from 1977-1981; founder of the Media Alliance photographers' group.

National Writers Union-UAW 1981

Awards (High lights)

1999 International Labor Communicators Association Max Steinbock Award for the humanitarian spirit in journalism for a story about a child welfare worker reclaiming a parent who had committed child abuse.

1995 Western Labor Press Association, top awards for best photography, best feature story, and best new publication (The Dragon).

1988 Media Alliance Meritorious Award for photography, for an exhibit about low-income hotel residents, and a story in the East Bay Express about crack cocaine addicts.

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