Letter from Washington: Divorce lawyers, Catskills retreats on the Guild?

How would you like your union dues to pay for retreats in the Catskills for Guild activists, or lawyers for members going through divorces? In a visit to the Reuters Washington bureau on Friday, our opponent suggested using the Guild’s reserves for just those purposes. Read our dispatch from Reuters Correspondent Andy Sullivan, who chairs the Guild’s mobilizing committee there.

Dear fellow New York NewsGuild members,

As you know, we’ve got an election in the works: Grant Glickson, The New York Times unit chair, hopes to unseat our sitting president, Peter Szekely. 

I hope you’ll take a minute to consider the views of a longtime Guild activist who feels strongly that we should stick with Peter.

1. Do you want your Guild dues to go towards divorce lawyers and Catskills vacations?

I had a chance to talk with Grant when he visited our Washington bureau on Friday. He told me he wants to make better use of the cash reserves we have built up under Peter’s tenure. 


He suggested the Guild could help out with legal bills when a member is going through a divorce. 

He suggested the Guild could conduct a training retreat for activist members in the Catskills.

I’m pretty active with the Guild: I’ve been a steward since 2004, and I currently head up Reuters’ mobilizing committee, trying to ensure that our 400-odd members keep the pressure on management as we negotiate a new contract.

Personally, I’m not planning on getting divorced any time soon. 

But as a longtime Guild activist, I’d probably be able to finagle that free Catskills vacation. 

I don’t think that’s a good use of our dues. 

I want our dues to go towards winning good contracts, expanding our ranks, and kicking up dust when one of our member units, like El Diario, faces an existential crisis. 

I want Guild Rep Susan DeCarava breathing fire at the bargaining table. I want the Guild’s Nastaran Mohit organizing new shops like Law360. I want mobilizer Jesus Sanchez coming up with creative ways to rattle our bosses when our bosses need rattling. 

I don’t want you to pay for my vacation in the Catskills, and I don’t want us to pay for someone else’s divorce lawyer. 

2. Do you want leaders who alienate the people they’re trying to win over?

I don’t know Grant personally. He seems like a nice enough guy.

I do know his running mate, Tony Barone. Tony works on the technology side of Reuters TV operation and is a member of our bargaining committee. 

I applaud Tony for his commitment. His interpersonal skills could use a little work. 

In a visit to Washington on Friday, Tony yelled at one of our members when she asked him why he doesn’t use Twitter. 

“What the hell have you ever done, anyway?” he said to Ginger Gibson. You might recognize her byline: she’s one of our best political reporters. She’s also one of our most energetic activists.

On that same visit, Tony told me he would no longer help to mobilize members at a time when we are reaching a crucial point in contract talks. (“I’m a busy guy!” he told me and everybody else who wasn’t wearing earplugs.)

If Tony Barone gets this bent out of shape during a routine hand-shaking expedition, how will he fare when he’s facing a union-busting lawyer? Is this the type of person you want representing your interests?

3. Do you want to stick with a Guild president who has bolstered our finances, expanded our ranks, and hired great people?

Me too! That’s why I’d urge you to vote for Peter Szekely. 

At a time when many unions are struggling with dwindling membership and finances, the New York NewsGuild is flush with cash and growing its ranks. That’s Peter’s doing.

I’ve seen Peter working for Guild since I joined Reuters in 2000 – first as Reuters unit chair, then as Guild secretary-treasurer, then as Guild president. It’s not glamorous work, but Peter’s tackled it with passion, heart and humor. 

Peter’s relentless, he’s dedicated, and he knows his stuff. 

I’ve had a rewarding career in my 16 years at Reuters. It’s a great place to work in large part because of the pay, benefits and working conditions that NewsGuild members have secured. 

Let’s keep a good thing going. Please vote for Peter’s slate when you get your ballot in the mail.

If you’d like to discuss further, feel free to email me anytime.

In Unity,

Andy Sullivan

Reuters NewsGuild Mobilizing Committee Chair