PENGUIN Random House has one of the NUJ's oldest Chapels (workplace-based units of organisation), with a recognition agreement in place since the early 1970s. (Union recognition means elected union reps negotiate with management on behalf of employees collectively, although this collective bargaining doesn't at the moment extend to freelances. Most such agreements date from "re-recognition" following the Fairness at Work Act of the early 2000s.)
Suddenly, late last year, the publishing company's management decided it wanted to de-recognise the Union and bring to an end the recognition agreement it had with the NUJ.
What was at the time a small Chapel without that many members fought back, and the fight also turned into what one NUJ activist described as a "fantastic recruitment drive." Well-known authors who are published by Penguin pitched in - Owen Jones wrote to Penguin's management and former Greek finance minister and Penguin author Yanis Varoufakis also made his views known. Many writers represented by the Society of Authors (SoA) contacted Penguin to express their displeasure. The SoA's magazine The Author made a suitable fuss.
The Freelance understands that, as a result, Penguin Random House "management had second thoughts, with the de-recognition threat now dropped. The NUJ Chapel is now a lot bigger as a result.
Some NUJ freelances are also members of the Society of Authors. A group of these, organised by the Adam Christie of the NUJ's Freelance Industrial Council, has written to the SoA to thank them for their cross-union solidarity.