George Gresham, PhD, is the President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the nation’s largest healthcare union. Under his leadership, 1199SEIU has secured industry-leading job and benefit standards for healthcare workers and positioned the Union as a major force for advancing progressive causes throughout New York and nationally.
Born in Virginia, his family moved north to New York City when he was young. His mother was a homecare worker, and his father eventually got a union job as a truck driver, which helped provide some stability for their family.
President Gresham began his career in the housekeeping department at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. He soon moved up to become a clerk in the radiology department and then —through the 1199 Training Fund— studied to become an MRI Technologist. Over the course of four decades, he has held every elected position in the Union’s constitution, including member delegate, organizer, vice president, executive vice president, secretary-treasurer, and president, a title which he has held since 2007.
Under his leadership, 1199SEIU members have secured the highest standards for healthcare workers in the nation, including fair wages, affordable health benefits, dignified retirement, continuing education, childcare, safe staffing and a real voice on the job. He has led the Union’s growth to more than 450,000 members throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Florida.
President Gresham has built a powerful voice for healthcare workers across local, state and federal government, and is a national leader on social justice issues. He believes strongly that the labor movement must work in coalition to advance progressive causes, including access to quality healthcare, living wages, racial and immigrant justice, gender and LGBTQI+ equality, and environmental protection.
President Gresham is on the boards of the following organizations: NAACP; Children’s Defense Fund; A. Philip Randolph Institute; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; Murphy Institute Labor Advisory Board; Consortium for Worker Education; Partnership for Quality Care; and SEIU, the largest union in the United States with over two million members.