Jian Osawa wants to make San Diego safer by organizing his union
Jian Osawa works full time – and then some. With seven years’ experience in the security industry, Jian is still paid so little that he’s forced to supplement his full-time job with event security at other companies. Jian also does freelance graphic design, personal training, and has started his own clothing line.
Although his pay is only $11.25, Jian likes the work. “I’ve met a lot of good people in the building. I’m still friends with tenants I met at past work sites.”
Even with multiple jobs, Jian—who rents one room in a condo with three other housemates—struggles to afford adequate food and transportation.
“I use the bus and the trolley. I’ve been trying to save for a car, but the pay is so low, I haven’t been able to scrape together enough even for an auction car. You know, where you pay $500 and piece it back together.”
This puts Jian in a Catch 22. Not having a car means he can’t take as much extra work. “Sometimes the event is too far, or goes too late. The bus only runs so long.”
The result is an unstable food situation – particularly difficult for a 29-year-old fitness nut like Jian. “I’m into health and working out. I try to eat all the good stuff, like chicken and brown rice. But sometimes when I can’t afford it, I have to eat the bad stuff. Top Ramen has so much sodium.”
“Sometimes my mom has me come over, and gives me some of her food. We might pour half of something out of the container. I try to keep the eggs from cracking on the bus home.”
This is why Jian and his co-workers are standing up to raise standards in the security industry. They are forming their first security union, and have joined the Fight for $15.
“I call it the Fight for Food,” Jian says, “We’re all coming together. Whether in this job, that job. Everyone has the same goal: to provide for themselves and their families without struggling. Not to have those days where we’re only eating once.”
“San Diego could change big time. We’d have a safer community. We wouldn’t see robberies or break-ins.”