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, 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
234 W 44th Street
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 www.theworkingtheater.org, or call 212-244-3300.
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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, Broadwayworld.com, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, thelmagazine.com, 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 AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.