DOWNEY (CBSLA) – Thirteen union activists marked Labor Day getting peacefully arrested, to protest plans by Kaiser Permanente to reduce staffing, which the giant healthcare chain says is necessary to contain costs.

Workers linked hands and sat down on pavement near Imperial Highway at Bellflower Boulevard in front of the Kaiser Permanente in Downey, at 9333 E. Imperial Highway.

Police said they made 13 arrests but would not provide details. Westbound Imperial Highway was closed at Bellflower Boulevard for much of the day, as the planned confrontation unfolded.

Unionized health care have been protesting since May at Kaiser Permanente facilities across the state, including at Harbor City, Baldwin Park and West Los Angeles.

The union has accused Kaiser of boosting its bottom line while making cuts that could hurt patient care. It alleged that the hospital plans to lay off pharmacy warehouse workers in Downey and make further staff cuts at other warehouses while relocating call center jobs in Los Angeles, Baldwin Park and Woodland Hills to other areas where workers will earn less.

Kaiser officials answered last spring that the union’s claims “are exactly the opposite of what’s happening.”

“The changes we are working on will ultimately give our members and patients better service, at a lower cost, and help meet tougher government standards around controlled substances,” said John Nelson, vice president of communications for Kaiser Permanente.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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