SANTA ROSA -- The National Labor Relations Board has certified the National Union of Healthcare Workers as the bargaining representative for about 700 technical, service and maintenance employees at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

The employees narrowly voted in favor of NUHW representation a year ago, but Memorial challenged the election.

Rival union SEIU had also sought to represent the employees but was soundly rejected in the voting.

Memorial officials said late Wednesday they will honor the board's ruling.

"Based on the law and the facts we presented, we remain steadfast in our belief that calling for the election to be set aside was the just thing to do for our employees, all of whom deserve the right to a free and fair election," Memorial said in a statement.

"Consistent with our pledge to our employees, we will honor the decision by the National Labor Relations and begin negotiating with the NUHW," the hospital said.