When Naomi Nakamura, a former day trader, had a chance to start over professionally, she chose the labor route. She left the world of finance and enrolled at San Francisco State University where she majored in Labor Studies. While in college, Naomi volunteered for a local and witnessed the union difference first-hand. She went on to become a Pharmacy Technician and started working at UCSF Mission Bay twelve years ago. It was only a matter of time before Naomi became an active member of our union.
Naomi learned quickly how being in a union pays off. Within five years of working at the University of California, she was earning more than her husband who had been at his job for twenty years. There were the added benefits of healthcare and a pension, which brought hope into her life. “I am grateful for the pension we fought for. I don’t have to worry about retiring now,” she shares.
In her view, there is nothing our union can’t fight for. One of Naomi’s highlights as a union member is a schedule fight that she helped organize in her department. Even though scheduling is in the contract, Management was not abiding by it, but she knew that “if we came together, we could accomplish anything in the department.” Naomi was right. Caught off-guard by the department’s organized strength, management met workers’ demands and scheduling issues improved.
Our fight for $25/5% is another opportunity to exercise our collective power. She wholeheartedly supports the call for a mid-contract raise because “$25 an hour is the most reasonable thing we can ask for.” One thing is clear to Naomi, “UC needs to share the wealth, but we have to fight for it.”
As a Japanese-American, Naomi is proud to speak out for what is right. Her father and grandfather were survivors of the U.S.’s incarceration of Japanese-Americans. She carries that family history with her and refuses to stay silent in the face of injustice. Naomi, though, knows that a choir of voices is louder than a single person: “I wish more people understood that the union is not this outside force. It is each and every one of us coming together to make change.”
Naomi is a MAT Leader and lives in San Francisco with her husband.