HOLLYWOOD — Police arrested 31 supporters of Kaiser Permanente workers for failure to disperse as they blocked an intersection near its Los Angeles Medical Center Sept. 2 in a Labor Day act of civil disobedience, authorities said.
Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, attended a 10 a.m. rally at Los Angeles City College that preceded the march to the East Hollywood medical center.
“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 told reporters.
Similar Labor Day protests by Kaiser Permanente workers were also held in Oakland, Sacramento and Portland, Oregon.
Kaiser Permanente workers across the state have voted overwhelmingly to authorize their union to call a strike if a labor contract cannot be 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.”
Arlene Peasnall, Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president of human resources, said “Kaiser Permanente 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,” Peasnall 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.”
Labor Day also was observed in Wilmington where the 40th Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Labor Coalition Parade drew 8,000 people, Larry Barragan, the coalition’s chairman, told City News Service.
Bands from Banning, Carson, Garfield, Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro, Venice and Verdugo Hills high schools and Harry Bridges Middle School performed in the parade.
A rally and picnic followed at Banning Park.
Sept. 2 also was Union Day at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona that featured a parade at noon. Admission was discounted to $8 for union members and their families.
Labor Day, a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the nation, was first celebrated in the U.S. on Sept. 5, 1882 in New York City.
In 1887, Oregon became the first state to formally recognize Labor Day. By 1894, 31 of the then-44 states had made Labor Day a holiday when Congress passed a bill designating the first Monday in September a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and territories.
“On #LaborDay, we honor the working women and men who keep L.A. strong,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted. “And every day, we must stay committed to lifting up our entire workforce — with fair wages, safe work places, and the tools and training to spur prosperity and lead the world.”
In his Labor Day proclamation, President Donald Trump wrote, “On Labor Day, we recognize the remarkable American workers who comprise the greatest labor force in the world. American workers are the heart and soul of our nation’s economic resurgence.
“Today, we honor those Americans whose contributions have turned our country into an economic powerhouse and we renew our commitment to create an environment that continues to foster and promote opportunity.”
Wave Wire Services