Lena M. Williams – Former Unit Chair and Sports Writer, The New York Times

I’m with Peter.

The candidate most qualified to be president.

The candidate with the right temperament for the job.

The one who doesn’t quit. The fighter.

That’s Peter Szekely.  If you’re voting for the candidate to lead Local 31003 of The NewsGuild of New York as its president, Peter is the man for the job.

I’ve known Peter for more than 20 years. When we first met, Peter was a reporter for the Reuters News agency. He was also an active member of The NewsGuild. I was working as a reporter for The New York Times and serving as a vice chair of the unit.

When I became the unit chair at The Times in 1997, I found a kindred spirit in Peter, a fellow journalist who deftly managed to do his job for Reuters, without fear or favor, and not compromise his principles as a union rep. We talked shop, shared bargaining strategies and, along the way, managed to maintain our integrity, gain the respect of our fellow Guild members and not compromise our journalistic principles.

Peter’s resume in the union speaks for itself: union organizer, chairperson of  the Local, regional vice president of The NewsGuild-CWA, secretary-treasurer and finally local president. He’s been at the bargaining table, negotiated contracts, walked picket lines, organized shops, managed budgets and given fair representation to all the Guild’s dues-paying members.

To be honest, I was surprised when I learned Peter was leaving his job at Reuters and moving his family to New York to work for the Local. I know his friends in journalism circles probably told him what my fellow journalists told me: that working for the union was a mistake, that it would hurt my career. I wondered why Peter would leave a prestigious job in journalism and uproot his family to what? … work for the union.

But Peter has proven them — and that includes me — wrong.

Over the past nine years, first as secretary-treasurer and now as president of the Local, Peter has worked diligently for members at the Local’s 20 units. He helped saved the Guild-Times Benefits Fund, which pays the health-care claims of Guild-represented Times employees, and the pension funds at The Times and Consumer Reports. Under his leadership, the Guild’s assets continued to grow, despite dwindling membership. He helped organize the digital side of Al Jazeera and Law360. He has spearheaded efforts to improve communications within the Local between its membership and its leadership.

Peter has a record to run on. If you want to know what kind of leader he will be, you need only look at his past accomplishments. Peter is not seeking to become president of the Local for what he can get out of it, but for what he can bring to it, and that’s proven leadership.

I retired from The Times in 2005. But I still consider myself to be a journalist, a Timeswoman and a union member. And it is because I still greatly care for the work of the union, for my former colleagues and fellow union members that I wanted to add my name, to what I hope is a growing list of those, who say: “I’m with Peter and encourage you to be with him too.”