*Please note, this event requires proof of vaccination in order to attend. 

2022 Bridge Awards and Benefit 

May 23, 6:00pm ET
The Water Club, 500 E 30th St.

Join us for Working Theater’s 2022 Bridge Awards and Benefit honoring Communications Workers of America Local 1180 President, Gloria Middleton, and Transport Workers Union International President, John Samuelsen. We so look forward to celebrating the evening and our honorees who exemplify our mission to champion working people’s voices and bridge the gap between the arts, labor, and community.

This in-person event will benefit Working Theater’s 37th Season of creating theater for, about, and with working people, and will include musical performances from Working Theater Alum, a silent auction, and much more.

Meet the Honorees

Gloria Middleton, President of Communications Workers of America Local 1180  took the helm in January 2018, and is the first African American and the first female to lead the 9,000 active member local. She was re-elected to serve a second term as President for 2021-2023.

Previously, she had been the Union’s Secretary-Treasurer since 2001. Under her leadership, the Local ’s finances were, and are now, the best they have ever been. Gloria has been the Local’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. She is the Trustee for the Local’s Benefits and Annuity funds, which have accrued assets of more than $120 million. She advised and supervised the Fund Administrator in the day-to-day operation of the Benefits Funds and was the Office Manager for the Local.

Gloria has served on the bargaining committees for the PAA et al contract and was chief negotiator for bargaining at NYC Transit Authority. Since 2001, she has been the chief negotiator for the Local ’s and Benefit Funds’ employees’ contract. She has also served as an instructor in the test preparation for members taking the Principal Administrative Associate and Administrative Manager Civil Service exams.

Gloria was Chairperson for the Local ’s Civil Rights & Equity Committee, and served for 15 years as the Chair of CWA’s National Committee on Civil Rights & Equity. Before Gloria became a Local 1180 Staff Representative in 1995, she was a career civil servant working at the Human Resources Administration, where she developed impeccable skills in research, analysis, and administrative problem solving that were enhanced with her work at Local 1180 as a former Staff Rep and Secretary-Treasurer.

Gloria is a Steering Committee member of the Municipal Labor Committee and is also an Executive Board member of the NYC Central Labor Council. She was involved in the Union’s decision to file an EEOC charge against the Bloomberg Administration, and as President, successfully brought the lawsuit to conclusion, winning a $15 million settlement for Administrative Managers. Gloria also was instrumental in forming a School of Labor in NYC that now has become the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.

As President, Gloria is committed to leading a politically progressive Local that organizes, mobilizes, and empowers members to improve their standard of living and that of all New Yorkers. Gloria continues to put Local 1180 on the map as one of, if not the most, progressive, outspoken unions as the voice of all working people. In 2020, with New York City about to lay off 22,000 workers right before the holidays, Gloria joined other top labor leaders in formulating an innovative cost-saving plan to stop the draconian move.

She was the facilitator for the Local ’s Manhattan Community Coordinating Committee; is Trustee and Treasurer of Mt. Paylor Baptist Church; and was President of the Shabazz Gardens Condominiums in Harlem. She has been honored in part by the Boy Scouts of America Greater New York Council; the Black Institute; NAACP; the Bill Lynch Democratic Club; and received Congressional recognition from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee for her work with the CWA National Civil Rights and Equity Committee.

 John Samuelsen, TWU International President represents over 150,000 members across the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities, and services sectors. Samuelsen was sworn in as
TWU’s 10th International President on May 1, 2017. He is also the former President of TWU
Local 100 in New York City – the union’s largest local.

A Brooklyn native, Samuelsen was hired by the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) in
1993 and was assigned to a track gang in Brooklyn, where he and his fellow union members
worked under difficult and unsafe conditions. Managers ignored safety regulations, disciplined
workers who spoke up, and had no respect for the workers or their union. While still in his
probationary period, Samuelsen’s co-workers elected him shop steward, and he fought
vigorously for a safer subway workplace. 

From 2001 to 2006, Samuelsen served as chair of the Track Safety Committee and chair of the
Track Division. From 2002–2005 he was Acting Vice President of the Maintenance of Way
Department, representing 7,100 workers providing essential services to NYCTA in Track, Line
Equipment and Signals, Power and Structure. During that time, he also served as lead negotiator
for all safety-related issues during contract bargaining between Local 100 and NYCTA, and
authored the Comprehensive Track Safety Bill passed by the New York State Legislature.
He was elected President of Local 100 in December 2009 and was reelected overwhelmingly in
2012 and 2015. He served as Local 100 president until September 26, 2017. He still maintains an active public role in New York politics and advocates on behalf of all TWU

During Samuelsen’s time as President, the TWU has been focused on new worker organizing
and grown the union by 15,000 members in over 20 successful organizing drives. The TWU is
currently leading the charge in fighting against offshoring the maintenance of U.S. passenger
aircraft to foreign countries and defending jobs against displacement through automation in the
transit industry.

Meet the Hosts

Kevin R Free is an award-winning audiobook narrator and an all-around artist person whose work as a director, producer, actor and playwright have been developed in many places. Most recently, he directed the World Premiere of Greg Lam’s The Last Ship to Proxima Centauri and Portland Stage; and Matt Schatz’s The Burdens at Mile Square Theatre, where he is now the Artistic Director. So much more at kevinrfree.com and on Instagram and Twitter: @kevinrfree.

Reynaldo Piniella was seen on Broadway in Trouble in Mind and Thoughts of a Colored Man. Off-Broadway credits include work at Signature, TFANA, Rattlestick, NYTW Next Door, Working Theater and the Public Theater.  Regional work includes Baltimore Center Stage, Syracuse Stage, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, O’Neill, Sundance Theatre Lab, Cleveland Play House. He will next be seen onstage in Ars Nova’s ANT Fest in the premiere of his solo show Black and Blue, directed by Kevin R. Free. His next appearance on TV will be guest starring in Season 2 of FX’s “Reservation Dogs.” @ReynaldoRey. www.reynaldopiniella.com



About the Annual Awards Ceremony

Every spring, Working Theater hosts a gala event honoring a few extraordinary New Yorkers for bridging the gap between the arts, labor, and community. This inspiring evening consists of a cocktail reception, entertainment, dinner, and a ceremony honoring those individuals whose work embodies the values and mission of Working Theater.

Click here to view past honorees

Deepest thanks to our 37th Season Supporters

Working Theater is supported in part by generous community members like you, and major gifts from: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New York Theater Program in partnership with the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York; The Howard Gilman Foundation; The Shubert FoundationThe Axe-Houghton Foundation; The Howard Bayne Fund; The Michael Tuch Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; Public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; An award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
GOLD SPONSORS: Cigna, EmblemHealth, Empire BlueCross BlueShield. 
SILVER SPONSORS: CWA Local 1180, NYC Central Labor Council, Segal Consulting, United Federation of Teachers, Vision Screening Inc/DDS Inc