LOS ANGELES, Calif. (CBS, KYMA/KECY) - Healthcare workers held a march and rally on Labor Day in Los Angeles.
Jessica Cruz, one of the healthcare workers at the rally, was showered with cheers as she was arrested in East Hollywood. Cruz was a part of a sit-in outside Kaiser Permanente.
When asked how often she hears complaints from patients, Cruz said, "I hear complaints from patients every day. But it’s worse when I have to tell patients, 'I’m sorry. There’s no available appointments until one month, two months, up to 3 months out.'"
On Monday, hundreds of unionized healthcare workers protested what they called unsafe staffing levels, long patient lines and low wages.
Possible healthcare workers strike
Across the country, 85,000 Kaiser workers say they may strike as early as October 1 if a new labor contract isn’t reached before then.
"We need to let Kaiser know we’re not playing with them anymore," said Tracy McDaniel, Kaiser Permanente employee.
In a written statement, Kaiser Permanente says it hired more than 29,000 new employees last year, and it’s on pace to exceed that this year. Kaiser’s employee turnover rate is 8.5%, compared to 21.4% at most healthcare organizations.
The demonstrators were granted a permit that included the closure of Sunset Boulevard.
"We’re here to support the group just as much as they’re here to make their point. We facilitate their civil rights, first amendment rights. And we’re more than happy to do so," said Captain Gary Walters of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
However, they were told to disperse. Those who didn’t were cited for a misdemeanor and released.
"Having the cameras rolling, showing that healthcare workers, showing that your nurses out there, willing to put themselves on the line, for you, is like it’s not something that’s getting brushed off," Cruz shared.
The LAPD said the people who were cited were prescreened before the demonstration to make sure they did not have a criminal record.