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Members vote to decertify union at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital

Members of a union at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital voted this week to disband the union in a vote that spanned Wednesday and Thursday and was handled by the National Labor Relations Board.

Union members had the opportunity to cast their votes on whether or not they wanted to keep in place the third-party representation by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, known as SEIU-UHW, which they had fought to join about three years ago.

The count was 107 votes in support of staying with the union and 118 votes to dissolve it, according to officials with the labor relations board.

Andrew Brown, a surgical buyer at the hospital, has been fighting since October to dissolve the union when he filed a petition that was rejected by the labor relations board because it arrived two days too late.

Brown filed another petition on Jan. 1.

The union includes patient-services representatives, certified nursing assistants, licensed vocational nurses, unit secretaries, monitor technicians, obstetric technicians, central processing employees, buyers, distribution technicians, obstetrics technicians and phlebotomists.

Brown said he was glad those employees who voted in the majority had the opportunity to have their voices heard.

“We can finally go back to being a unified Verdugo family,” Brown said in a statement. “Now, we can finally communicate freely with our employers without having a third party in between us tying our hands and stealing our money. We can now put all this behind us and begin the process of reconciliation and start working together to bring the best outcome for our Verdugo Family.”

Keith Hobbs, chief executive of the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, responded to the close vote.

“It was important to give all the SEIU membership the ability to cast a vote for representation or a direct relationship with leadership,” Hobbs said in a statement. “It is the end of a long process by our staff who no longer wished to be represented by the union and initiated a process for decertification. We look forward to the NLRB certifying the election in the near future.”

Union officials did not respond to a request for a statement regarding the vote’s outcome.

mark.kellam@latimes.com

Twitter: @LAMarkKellam