Best old-fashioned labor stem-winder (2008)

Ed Ott

Great oratory was once part of the sales pitch that trade unionists used to win over the masses. But it's a dying art. Ever hear AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney give a speech? Zzzz. However, New York City Central Labor Council director Ed Ott boasts a set of golden pipes. Ott—whose labor career began with a mop and a pail of soapy water at a Manhattan hospital, where he chafed at management's callous demands—has been pushing unionism in this town for 38 years. His ability to give a powerful speech has been part of what's made him a winning organizer. If proof was needed, it came a few years ago, when Ott had to follow ex-prez Bill Clinton—the Arkansas preacher himself— to the dais one night. Clinton was on his game that evening, but by the time Ott was done, the cheers rang longer and louder. From the audience came this shout: "Ott for President!"


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >