USC Verdugo Hills hospital nurses protest

Nurses rallied outside USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale on Wednesday afternoon, demanding safer working conditions. (Photo by Dinorah Williams / July 30, 2014)

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About 70 nurses and 40 of their supporters rallied outside of USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital on Wednesday afternoon as they called for the hospital’s administration to bring their working conditions up to par with the university’s other hospitals.

The nurses unionized in March and now the California Nurses Assn. is in the midst of contract negotiations with the hospital, said Dinorah Williams, the nurses’ labor representative. About 72% of the hospital’s 150 nurses voted to join the union in March in search of better retirement plans and improved staffing.

The University of Southern California bought the Glendale hospital last July, promising to make $30 million in capital improvements.

But Williams said a “new coat of paint” is not enough, adding that working conditions at the 158-bed hospital are not equal to the university’s other hospitals in Los Angeles. Nurses carried signs in cardinal red and gold, the school’s colors, that said “Fight on USC,” but “fight” was crossed out and replaced with “shame.”

Calls to a hospital spokesperson were not returned for comment by deadline.