At least seven people were taken into custody Tuesday when police responded to a large rally in downtown Los Angeles held by striking county social workers who say they’re overburdened with heavy case loads that affect children’s safety.
Aerial video showed hundreds of protesters filling the intersection of Hill and Temple streets just after 1 p.m., many waving signs and carrying megaphones.
Dozens of officers escorted one woman into a police car as the strikers continued to protest. Later, seven protesters were arrested after refusing to leave the intersection, where they were sitting in the middle of the pavement, Los Angeles police officials told the Los Angeles Times.
The rally was the latest in a string of protests organized by Los Angeles County children’s social workers, who began the strike on Dec. 5.
According to the Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents the workers, the strike began when contract negotiations broke down over high case loads.
“I have, personally, 44 cases. Twelve of those I have to see twice a month. That makes 56 cases in 16 days,” said striker Roger Humberger, a county social worker. “We have way more work than you could possibly imagine.”
The group is arguing for 35 more social workers to be hired each month for 17 months — an addition of staff they say will help lessen case loads and allow workers to spend more time focusing on each child. So far, county officials have refused to agree to hire a specific number of new workers, according to The Times.
Tuesday’s protest targeted the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors, which oversees the county’s Department of Children and Family Services.
“We’re taking this strike straight to the top,” said social worker Jessi Gonzalez in a statement Tuesday.
“The Board members have the power to approve a contract that protects children and families in L.A. County, and we intend to deliver that message to them in person,” she continued.
KTLA’s Jim Nash and Melissa Pamer contributed to this report.