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Northridge Hospital Nurses OK Union Membership

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Following a nationwide trend of organizing health-care employees, registered nurses at Northridge Hospital Medical Center have voted to join the Service Employees International Union Nurse Alliance.

The 381-108 vote to join the union was made public Monday after three days of balloting last week, supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. Nurses were told of the outcome on Friday.

“We really respect their decision and the hospital will continually work in a positive and collaborative manner with SEIU,” said Teddi Grant, the hospital’s director of marketing.

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Over the next few weeks, the nurses will organize a bargaining team to work with hospital management on negotiating the union’s first labor contract at Northridge.

The 75-year-old union, the largest in the health-care industry, includes more than 110,000 nurses nationwide--with 35,000 in California.

Nurses hope the decision to unionize will give their opinions more weight in the hospital’s decision-making processes, union spokeswoman Lisa Hubbard said.

Linda Pickford, a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit, said the primary concern for nurses is the “dangerously” low staffing levels.

“With not enough [registered nurses] in an intensive care unit, you have unsafe staffing, which means you have too many patients,” Pickford said.

Nurses say they are also looking forward to having the union represent them on such issues as pay and employee benefits.

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“But most of all, we’ll have a voice,” Pickford said. “Right now, we have no voice at all. We’ll be able to protect our patients as well as our profession.”

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