LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Health care workers who were staging a protest outside Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Hollywood were arrested and cited by the Los Angeles Police Department for “civil disobedience” on Labor Day after police declared the protest an unlawful assembly.

The workers were participating in a Labor Day march and rally that came to a conclusion outside the Hollywood hospital.

The workers, represented by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, have been embroiled in a dispute with Kaiser, one of the nation’s largest health care systems, over what they say is unfair labor practices, including allegations of unsafe staffing levels.

After weeks of growing unrest, tens of thousands of Kaiser employees began the process of authorizing a formal strike over the the discourse, which would be the largest health care strike in the nation’s history.

Photos shared from both the union and the LAPD showed protesters sitting on the street in a circle, blocking the road as part of the protest.

Lillian Carranza, LAPD’s Assistant Commanding Officer of Operations-Central Bureau, said on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, that the protesters were ordered to disperse, but remained steadfast in their demonstration.

In total, 23 were arrested and then released after they were cited for civil disobedience, Carranza said — a number that was confirmed by the health care workers’ union.

  • Health care workers sit in protest on a roadway in Hollywood as part of an organized demonstration against Kaiser Permanente on Sept. 4, 2023. In total, 23 were arrested and cited. (SEIU UHW)
  • A demonstrator is detained by LAPD officers following a protest outside Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Hollywood on Sept. 4, 2023. (SEIU UHW)
  • Health care workers and supporters participated in a Labor Day demonstration in Hollywood that came to a head after 23 health care workers were arrested for civil disobedience on Sept. 4, 2023. (SEIU UHW)

Monday’s protest was part of a larger demonstration happening at hospitals and medical centers across the state.

In a release issued to the media by the union, quoted workers said they were “burnt out, stretched thin, and fed up after years of the pandemic and chronic short staffing.”

“Healthcare providers are failing workers and patients, and we are at crisis levels in our hospitals and medical centers,” said Datosha Williams, a service representative at Kaiser Permanente South Bay. “Our employers take in billions of dollars in profits, yet they refuse to safely staff their facilities or pay many of their workers a living wage.”

Williams added that the union members and health care workers were “prepared to do whatever it takes” to continue to voice their concerns and displeasure about the state of affairs at Kaiser hospitals.

A recent poll of 33,000 of the health care provider’s employees found that two-thirds said they have personally witnessed care be delayed or denied due to short staffing, the union said. The union also said many of its members are living in cars while Kaiser, a nonprofit, recently reported $3 billion in profit in the first half of 2023.

Monday’s demonstration was co-sponsored by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and featured speeches from health care workers and other California labor leaders and elected officials.

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.”

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.