2013 NLC Fellow: Sandy Naranjo

Sandy Naranjo
Organizer, United Food and Commercial Workers – Local 135

Sandy Naranjo is currently an Organizer at the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, a union that represents workers in retail, food, meat, drug stores, packinghouses, pharmacies and laboratories in both San Diego and Imperial Counties. Sandy is responsible for improving the lives of working women and men by developing the workers into effective leaders and organizing them into the union.

Prior to her job with UFCW, she previously worked as a field organizer for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO where she worked to enhance the labor movement by connecting organized labor with the broader community through campaigns and activities such as We Deserve Better, A Better San Diego breakfast series, May Day, Occupy Labor Solidarity and Anti-Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement forums. Her experience in union organizing developed through her internship as an organizer with Service Employees International Union Local 99, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1167, and with the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OURWALMART).

Sandy earned three bachelor degrees in Political Science, Economics, and Political Economy with a minor certificate in Women’s Studies at California State University San Bernardino. Sandy was an active student heavily involved with Feminist causes by raising awareness on reproductive rights, equal pay, and domestic violence. She was also an active member on the Coyote Debate team where she competed in British Parliamentary debate tournaments in Bangkok, Thailand, Antalya, Turkey, Melbourne, Australia, Denver, Colorado, Ithaca, New York, and Portland, Oregon. She was also on the Model United Nations team where she and her team competed and won the Outstanding Delegation for two consecutive years.

One of Sandy’s defining activist moments was organizing a mock-same-sex wedding at her high school. Along with her colleagues from the Gay Straight Alliance, they wanted to highlight the need to legalize same-sex marriage. Despite much criticism, and protest from the local elected officials, churches, and the community, Sandy and her allies were able to garner support from LGBT national organizations and they successfully changed history in their town.

Sandy’s passion for social justice was ingrained in her since birth. She was raised by parents who immigrated to the United States and like many other immigrants faced harsh racism and classism. Her father Joseph A. Naranjo was an Ironworker who taught Sandy into believing that the wedge between poverty and a good life for working people are unions. She owes her union activism and passion to her father.

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