Gotbaum, Victor H.

Gotbaum, Victor H.

(1921–  ) labor leader; born in New York City. He became involved in union activities while working as a teenager, and by age 19 was working as a pressman in a printing shop owned by an uncle. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in World War II and afterwards attended Brooklyn College (B.A. 1948). He then took his M.A. at the School of International Affairs at Columbia University (1950). He briefly taught government at Brooklyn College, then became a foreign affairs officer with the State Department for a few years before working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1955 he became assistant education director of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters in Chicago, the first of several union jobs that took him to several cities. He returned to New York City to organize the hospital workers. By 1965 he had become head of District Council 37 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which he built into the largest municipal employees union in the U.S.A. while gaining a reputation as both a forceful yet responsible advocate for his union's members. He retired from that position in 1986 and went on to teach, research, and consult on labor-management policies and related social issues at the City University of New York. In 1993 he was selected by Mayor David Dinkins to serve on New York City's Board of Education. Gotbaum's wife, Betsy Brearley, was commissioner of parks and recreation under Dinkins.