George Gresham re-elected President of 1199SEIU

June 22, 2022

Milly Silva sworn-in as Secretary-Treasurer, full leadership team installed of the largest healthcare union in the United States

New York, NY — On Tuesday, June 14, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest union of healthcare workers in the nation, installed its newly-elected leadership team at a ceremony in midtown Manhattan.

Present were some 2000 rank-and-file delegates (shop stewards) who also took their oath of office. Special guest speakers included Bishop William Barber, Mayor Eric Adams, Attorney General Tish James, 1199SEIU President Dennis Rivera (1989-2007), SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, and SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Gerry Hudson.

George Gresham was re-elected to his sixth term. He first joined the union as a rank-and-file member in 1975, when he got a job as a housekeeper at Presbyterian Hospital. Through 1199’s Training and Upgrading Fund, he went back to school to become an radiology technologist. His co-workers elected him as delegate, after which he joined union staff as an organizer. He exceled in his role, and over the course of four decades became the only 1199 member to hold every elected position in the union’s constitution— delegate, organizer, vice president, executive vice president, secretary-treasurer, and president, a title which he has held since 2007.

Under President Gresham’s leadership, 1199SEIU has 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.

Elected to the union’s #2 post as Secretary-Treasurer was Milly Silva, who previously served as Executive Vice President for the union’s 55,000-strong nursing home division in New York and New Jersey. Now the highest-ranking Latina in 1199’s history, Ms. Silva brings along decades of organizing experience. The daughter of a homecare worker, Milly grew up in the Bronx and after graduating college became a tenant and community organizer, then a labor organizer, overseeing organizing and representation for tens of thousands of low-wage healthcare workers on both sides of the Hudson River.

“Serving as President of 1199 is an honor of a lifetime, and I am humbled by the members who chose me to continue in this role during what has been the most turbulent time in the healthcare industry in generations,” said President Gresham. “1199 members know that we can overcome anything if we organize, mobilize, and use our collective power as working people. There is so much work to be done in our country to defend workers’ rights, expand access to healthcare, advance social and economic justice, and preserve our democracy. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once described 1199 as ‘the authentic conscience of the labor movement,’ and we are determined to live up to those words as we meet the challenges of today.”


1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in New York and nationwide. We represent over 450,000 total members throughout New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, and Washington, D.C.   Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.