Kaiser Permanente workers in Southern California have voted by huge margins to dump Service Employees International Union and go with a rival union formed a year ago by former SEIU officials.

The vote was 1,652 to 254 in the biggest contest for members since the National Union of Healthcare Workers was formed. It brings 2,300 workers in three bargaining units at Kaiser hospitals and clinics in Los Angeles and San Diego into the new union.

“This is a game changer,” said Sal Rosselli, a former president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West who now heads up NUHW. “The momentum will clearly be with us as we move forward.”

SEIU spokesman Steve Trossman called the results disappointing and said the vote puts these workers at “great risk” because they will no longer be part of the Kaiser coalition and will have to bargain a contract on their own.

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