In a new development, the four major unions representing workers at Lifespan and Care New England now support the proposed merger between Rhode Island’s two largest hospital groups.

“We believe that it makes sense to keep our health services local and nonprofit,” Patrick Quinn, executive vice president of Service Employees International Union, District 1199 New England, said Thursday in an interview with The Public’s Radio. “We think this is the best way to make sure that that happens and continues.”

United Nurses and Allied Professionals, UNAP, announced its support for the Lifespan-Care New England merger earlier this week.

Quinn, during a taping of Political Roundtable, said two other unions representing workers at hospitals operated by Lifespan and Care New England, the Teamsters and the American Federation of Teachers and Allied Health Professionals, are also supporting the proposed merger.

Brown University has committed $125 million as part of a plan to create an academic health system with the merger entity.

SEIU’s support is noteworthy, considering how Quinn had taken a skeptical view of the proposed merger in the past. Some critics say the merged entity would have too much power over healthcare in Rhode Island.

Now, Quinn said, “We take the leaders of that organization at their word, that they want to do something transformational and not just do a larger version of what they’re doing. And they want to shift their focus to population health, to disparities, towards trying to make Rhode Island’s population a healthier population, and build our infrastructure to do that.”

The unified support from the unions followed talks with Lifespan and Care New England, Quinn said.

The companies agreed to avoid layoffs as part of a merger, he said, to include a labor representative on a merger board of directors, and to agree to union representation for workers as part of any new facilities that are opened.

District 1199 NE represents about 2,300 nurses and other healthcare workers, including many who work at Care New England hospitals.

The proposed merger faces approval by state and federal regulators.

The latest in a series of public hearings is being held Thursday evening by Attorney General Peter Neronha. He is expected to make his decision in March.

Ian Donnis can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IanDon. Sign up here for his weekly RI politics and media newsletter.