Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Kaiser Permanente workers are amid a strike authorization vote.
Monday is Labor Day, a holiday created to celebrate American workers, and picketers and strikers took advantage of the occasion to highlight what they describe as low pay, poor benefits and unsafe working conditions.
At the W Hollywood hotel, workers picketed, played drums and chanted outside one of the most prominent and popular hotels in one of Los Angeles’ prime tourist attractions.
Hotel workers allege that they are unable to afford to be able to live near their workplace, and they’re seeking higher wages in their next contract with major hotel chains.
While hotel workers — and the striking writers and actors unions — have primarily financial concerns, health care workers have different motivations for striking.
In particular, Kaiser Permanente’s tens of thousands of workers are amid a strike authorization vote because they claim chronic understaffing leads to long wait times, misdiagnoses and neglect for patients.
“It would be the largest healthcare strike in U.S. history,” the workers’ union said in a press release announcing their plans for Labor Day.
The workers marched to Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, 4867 W. Sunset Blvd., where they planned to engage in “civil disobedience.”
The workers “say the staffing shortages are so dire that they are prepared to get arrested in order to call attention to the crisis in patient care,” the release added.
The Los Angeles Police Department said on X, formerly Twitter, that 25 people were arrested at 11:20 a.m. for failure to disperse at a protest outside the Kaiser Permanente hospital.
“The demonstration was peaceful and has concluded. Sunset Blvd will be open to traffic shortly,” police added.
In a statement provided to KTLA, a Kaiser Permanente spokesperson said the organization is “committed to providing a positive, safe, and equitable work environment and to being a best place to work.”
“Because of our efforts, Kaiser Permanente has weathered the pandemic and its related health-care-wide staffing challenges better than most health care organizations,” the statement said. “While most health care organizations are experiencing an employee turnover rate of 21.4%, Kaiser Permanente’s average employee turnover rate is only 8.5%.”
The spokesperson added that last year, Kaiser Permanente hired more than 29,000 new workers, and even more are expected to be hired this year.
“We believe this is because talented people recognize the value of our current wage and benefit offerings and want to work at Kaiser Permanente. About 96% of candidates for Coalition-represented positions accept our employment offers — significantly above the industry average,” the statement said. “We remain committed to bargaining with our Coalition unions in good faith and in the spirit of partnership, working together to address the many complex issues at both local and national bargaining tables. We are confident that we will reach an agreement that achieves this goal before the national agreement expires on September 30.”