Workers at Snøhetta Vote Against Unionizing

The architecture firm would have been one of the first in the U.S. to organize in decades.

The Bjellandsbu, a 376-square-foot hunting cabin located in western Norway. Designed by Snøhetta, Photo by James Silverman  #cabin #prefab #norway #horse #grassroof #snow
The Bjellandsbu, a 376-square-foot hunting cabin located in western Norway. Designed by Snøhetta, Photo by James Silverman #cabin #prefab #norway #horse #grassroof #snow

On Friday, it was announced that workers at the architecture firm Snøhetta just narrowly voted against unionizing and joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

According to labor reporter Noam Schieber at The New York Times, the vote was 35 to 29, though he had first reported that the vote was 29 to 28—apparently votes from the firm’s San Francisco office had initially mistakenly not been counted by the National Labor Relations Board, but shifted the results further. The union would have included 65 employees, which were made up of "all full-time and regular part-time employees based at the Employer’s New York and San Francisco studios, as well as all other full-time and regular part-time employees based in the United States, including all designers, architects, project leaders, and operations staff." Those who would have been excluded would have been "managers, supervisors, partners, directors, financial officers, executive assistants, and confidential employees, and all accounting, billing and human resources personnel."

In a statement, Architectural Workers United claimed that Snøhetta had been "the first private sector architecture firm to even get to a union vote in over 50 years, which in itself is a historic achievement to be celebrated." They also suggested, however, that the union had faced internal pushback from management: "They hired the anti-union law firm Stinson LLP to help them defeat this effort and with their help, ran a coordinated anti-union campaign leading up to the vote."

"After a months-long campaign by the Machinists to unionize Snøhetta in the U.S., the majority of employees made it clear that they opposed this direction for our workplace," a spokesperson for the firm said in a statement to The Architect’s Newspaper. "We look forward to working together as one studio to continue building on our legacy of creativity and collaboration."

Workers had initially announced their desire to seek a vote with the NLRB in May, saying in a statement that it would allow them to "gain a collective voice in the future of our workplace and our profession." They followed a successful attempt at unionization at Bernheimer Architects, and an unsuccessful attempt at SHoP, both last year.

Top photo of a Snøhetta hunting cabin is by James Silverman originally from Dwell magazine, 2019.

Related Reading:

Workers at Architecture Firm Snøhetta Announce Their Attempt to Unionize

This New York City Firm Just Formed the First Private-Sector Architecture Union