On Labor Day, 23 healthcare workers were arrested and cited by the Los Angeles Police Department for “civil disobedience” after they staged a protest outside Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Hollywood. The workers, who are members of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), were demanding better working conditions and fair labor practices from Kaiser, one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems.
The protest was part of a larger demonstration that took place at hospitals and medical centers across the state, where tens of thousands of Kaiser employees have been authorized to go on strike over the ongoing dispute. The workers claim that Kaiser has been understaffing its facilities, putting patients and staff at risk, especially during the pandemic. They also accuse Kaiser of refusing to pay many of its workers a living wage, despite making billions of dollars in profits.
23 healthcare workers arrested after multi-industry Labor Day protests:
The protesters in Hollywood blocked the road in front of the hospital, sitting in a circle and holding signs that read “Kaiser: Stop the Greed” and “Patients Over Profits”. They were ordered to disperse by the LAPD, but they refused to comply. They were then arrested and released after being issued citations for civil disobedience, a misdemeanor offense.
The union said that the protest was a peaceful and nonviolent act of civil disobedience, intended to draw attention to the plight of healthcare workers and patients. “Healthcare providers are failing workers and patients, and we are at crisis levels in our hospitals and medical centers,” said Datosha Williams, a service representative at Kaiser Permanente South Bay. “Our employers take in billions of dollars in profits, yet they refuse to safely staff their facilities or pay many of their workers a living wage.”
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The union also said that the workers were prepared to do whatever it took to fight for their rights and dignity. “We are not going to back down until Kaiser respects us and our patients,” said Williams. Kaiser Permanente did not respond to requests for comment on the protest.
However, in a previous statement, Kaiser said that it was committed to providing high-quality care and competitive wages and benefits to its employees. Kaiser also said that it was disappointed that the union was threatening to strike, instead of engaging in constructive negotiations.
The union and Kaiser have been in contract talks since June 2023, but have not reached an agreement yet. The union said that it will announce the date of the possible strike soon, which could affect more than 50,000 workers and 40 hospitals in California. The strike would be the largest healthcare strike in the nation’s history.