Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: 1199SEIU President George Gresham to receive Labor Leadership Award at 2011 Working Theater Annual Awards Ceremony on May 16

George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU, will receive the Labor Leadership Award for Bridging the Gap Between Labor, the Arts and Community, at the 2011 Working Theater Annual Awards Ceremony at Sardi’s in New York, on Monday May 16, 2011. The 2011 Working Theater Annual Awards commemorates the work of an individual who has demonstrated exemplary commitment and leadership skills in the labor movement, and who has brought labor and the arts together. Working Theater is New York’s only off-Broadway company that produces plays for and about working people.

George Gresham

George Gresham

George Gresham, the fifth president in the union’s 75-year history, was elected in April 2007.

The grandson of a Virginia sharecropper, Mr. Gresham spent his early childhood in the segregated school system of the state. When his parents got jobs as live-in domestic help for a wealthy Long Island family, George was left with his grandparents until his parents could afford to bring him north. Mr. Gresham’s father became a trucker, and eventually a member and activist in the Teamsters Union. The economic impact of a good Union job on the family’s living standards was not lost on George Gresham.

In 1975, at the age of 20, he went to work in the housekeeping department at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in northern Manhattan. He soon moved up to become a clerk in the radiology department and then—through the Union’s Training and Upgrading Fund–studied to become an MRI Technologist.

A member of the Union for 34 years, Mr. Gresham previously served as Secretary-Treasurer, Executive Vice President for Collective Bargaining, Vice President, Organizer and rank-and-file Delegate.

Mr. Gresham has been at the forefront of strengthening the labor movement, working tirelessly to improve the lives and working conditions of his members. In June and July 2009, he directed the successful collective bargaining with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes on behalf of 135,000 New York metropolitan area members at 87 institutions. The contract expands job security guarantees for the members—including part-time workers—and a host of other employment security measures, including a pledge of a job within six months for any member who loses a job as a result of state-mandated hospital closing and downsizing. The contract also secures the health benefits including world-class comprehensive coverage with no out-of-pocket expenses, improves the pension benefits (already among the best in the country) and gives a 10 percent compounded wage increase through April 2015.

Mr. Gresham also serves as a Vice President of the Executive Board of Service Employees Internal Union (SEIU) with 2.1 million working members in locals throughout the nation, and co-chairs the 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund, the largest self-insured union healthcare plan in the nation, the 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund, which has employer contributions and grant funding of over $150 million per year, the 1199/Employer Child Care Fund, which covers over 50,000 children of members, and the 1199SEIU Pension Fund, which has nearly $7 billion in assets.

Additionally, he currently serves as a board member of the Children Defense Fund, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. He acts as the Co-chair of the One Nation Working Together Coalition. Along with the Honorary, Kathleen Sebelius, United States Secretary of Health & Human Services, Mr. Gresham serves as a member of the (PQC) Partnership for Quality Care Coalition. In 2010, he was appointed by the New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, to the (MRT) Medicaid Redesign Team.

The 2011 Working Theater Annual Awards Ceremony at Sardi’s begins at 6pm with cocktails and a silent auction, followed by dinner and entertainment. All proceeds will support Working Theater’s 26th Season, which features the development and presentation of many new plays for and about working people as well as the continuation of the Company’s TheaterWorks! program, which teaches writing and performance skills to working men and women throughout New York City. With the support and partnership of many of the city’s most influential labor unions, Working Theater has brought groundbreaking, award winning and affordable theater to thousands of working people in all five boroughs.

The 2011 Working Theater Annual Awards Ceremony
Monday, May 16, 2011
Sardi’s Restaurant
234 W 44th Street
New York
Tickets are $250, $350, $500, $3500 for a Patron Table of 10, $5000 for a Sponsor Table of 10. All ticket purchases minus $120/ticket are fully tax-deductible. For tickets or more information about the 2011 Working Theater Annual Awards Ceremony, visit, or call 212-244-3300.

Other Articles by Lia Chang
André De Shields & Alison Fraser Star in Reading of Michael Aman’s The Unbleached American at Theater Row on 5/9
Working Theater Presents Staged Reading of Chay Yew’s Visible Cities at The Studio Theatre on Theatre Row
Photos:The Working Theater’s Off-Broadway production of HONEY BROWN EYES by Stefanie Zadravec at The Clurman
Lia Chang Photo Slideshows of Productions in the Working Theater’s 25th Anniversary Season
Multimedia: Photos of Ed Cardona, Jr.’s American Jornalero at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre
Photos of André De Shields in Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory: From Douglass to Deliverance
Achieving the American Dream, Professional Charmer Andre De Shields Sees Theater is a Way to Life
André De Shields Celebrates Black History Month Starring in The Working Theater’s Production of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory at The Abingdon in February 2010
Rene Goldsberry, Frances McDormand, Tim Blake Nelson, Duncan Sheik lend vocal talents for The 52nd Street Project 30th Anniversary Gala Celebrating Willie Reale on 5/9
Samrat Chakrabarti stars in Soham Mehta’s Fatakra, Shiva Shankar Bajpai’s Raju, and Rehana Mirza’s Zameer & Preeti at NYIFF
Victory Gardens appoints renowned director and playwright Chay Yew as its new Artistic Director
André De Shields stars in Chicago Premiere of Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James at Victory Gardens 5/14-6/12
AEA celebrates Asian Heritage Month w/ Leviathan Lab’s Asian American Female Playwright’s Short Play Festival in NY, 5/12-13
LUCKYRICE Festival 2011 in New York includes Daniel Boulud, Susur Lee, Anito Lo, Masaharu Morimoto, May 2-8, 2011
32nd Annual Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival at Union Square Park in NYC on May 8, 2011
11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF), May 4-8, 2011
Ruby Dee, Alicia Keys, Sidney Poitier among honorees at Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre’s 40th Anniversary Gala at Edison Ballroom on 5/22
Up Close and Personal with Darren Pettie, Star of The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
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Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2011 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden. Lia currently plays Nurse Lia on “One Life to Live”. She has appeared in Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and “New York Undercover”.

Selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space are now in the newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.

Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre,, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle,,,,,, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

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