LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Police said 31 supporters of Kaiser Permanente workers were arrested for failing to disperse after blocking an intersection near the Los Angeles Medical Center Monday in a Labor Day act of civil disobedience.

The group initially gathered in East Hollywood Monday morning with labor leaders, Rep. Maxine Waters and presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris in attendance.

“I think of it as a rally, I think of it as a moment where we are celebrating the leadership of organized labor that brought all of us whether you’re a member of the union or not, better conditions, better wages, better, benefits,” Harris said.

Kaiser Permanente workers, who have been without a contract for a year, have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if an agreement on a labor contract is not reached.

Jacob Hay, one of the rally and march’s organizers, said The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions is seeking a new contract that would:
— Restore a true worker-management partnership, and have Kaiser bargain in good faith;
— Ensure safe staffing and compassionate use of technology;
— Build the workforce of the future to deal with major projected shortages of licensed and accredited staff in the coming years; and
— Protect middle-class jobs with wages and benefits that can support families.

Kaiser said it would work through these challenges to align on common goals that are in the best interest of patients, employees and the communities they serve. Arlene Peasnall, Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president of human resources, said the company has a long and productive history with organized labor.

“Our efforts to involve our workforce in decision-making and create an environment of continuous learning and improvement over the past 70-plus years have set the bar for how labor and management can work together,” she said. “Just last fall, we successfully negotiated a contract with the Alliance of Health Care Unions that established a strong partnership that improves our working environment and rewards our employees with highly competitive wages, benefits and advancement programs.”

Similar Labor Day protests and rallies happened in Oakland, Sacramento and Portland, Oregon.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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