Inaugurations Celebrate Accomplishments and Take Up ChallengesAugust 22, 2019
Union officers and over 4,000 delegates were sworn in at June ceremonies.
Some 4,000 1199SEIU delegates from New York’s Downstate, Hudson Valley and Capital Regions, along with a unionwide slate of executive officers, were sworn in at a ceremony held on June 17 at a midtown Manhattan hotel.
1199SEIU President George Gresham and Secretary Treasurer Maria Castaneda, who have held their offices since 2007, were sworn in for a fifth threeyear term. Together with 1199’s Executive Board and delegate body, they represent 450,000 Union constituents.
The event marked 60 years since the seminal organizing victory establishing 1199 in New York City’s hospitals.
Dennis Rivera, Gresham’s predecessor as 1199’s leader, administered the oath of office. Rivera grew emotional in his observations about 1199’s continued growth and progress.
“You have not only kept alive our traditions,” said Rivera. “But you have taken them to even greater heights.”
In a touching reminder of working families’ priorities, Pres. Gresham was joined on stage for his swearing in by his children and grandchildren. In his remarks afterward, Gresham expressed gratitude to the membership for their confidence in him and vowed continued determination in the face of the relentless attacks on working people and the poor.
“We will not sit idly by while some elected officials try to strip tens of thousands of hardworking Americans of the health care they deserve,” Gresham promised.
Cheryl Mingo, a CNA at Hebrew Home River Spring in the Bronx, said she was more than prepared to join President Gresham on the front lines of the battle for justice and equality.
“When people ask me about being a delegate I tell them not to be scared,” she affirmed. “I tell them that’s why God gave us a mouth, so we can speak up. If we don’t, we will get walked over.”
“ America is better because of 1199.”
– New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
A host of long-time Union friends and allies, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, attended the swearing in and praised 1199ers’ unflagging advocacy around quality healthcare and social and economic justice for all.
“America is better because of 1199," said Mayor de Blasio.
Jackie Wilson, a surgical tech at Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, was energized as he waited to be sworn in for his first term as a delegate. “Unions are here to help working people and we have to participate and be here to make sure workers get a fair shake,” he said. Also sworn in at June ceremonies were delegates from Upstate New York, New Jersey, Florida and Maryland/DC. Tyrone Bibby, cook at Crouse Medical Center in Syracuse, was sworn in at a ceremony there on June 26. A firsttime delegate, Bibby said becoming a delegate was a natural extension of caregiving.
“We do this because we want to help people. I have always wanted to help people, whether it’s as a cook with food, or as a delegate,” said Bibby.