Workers in Snøhetta’s U.S. studios petition to unionize


Workers in Snøhetta’s U.S. studios petition to unionize

The AWU has supported workers at Snøhetta in their unionization attempt. (Courtesy AWU)

Architectural workers at Snøhetta’s U.S. studios filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to unionize. If successful, Snøhetta workers would be the second architecture firm to unionize in the country, following workers’ successful unionization at Bernheimer Architecture last September.

With its main office in Oslo, Snøhetta has eight additional offices, in New York City, San Francisco, in the European Union, East Asia, and Australia. In total the offices employ over 350 workers of 40 nationalities. Workers in the Oslo office are already unionized, as union membership is far more widespread in Norway.

In the U.S., the firm’s recent work includes the revamped 550 Madison and One Vanderbilt, with work underway on Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center for the Arts and Iowa’s Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.  

In response to unethical working conditions at the construction site of the Snøhetta-designed Le Monde headquarters in 2020, the firm responded to a petition saying that they supported the largely undocumented workers’ rights and “have actively been advocating for workers’ rights on the building sites in which we have been involved around the world.” 

Through Architectural Workers United (AWU), U.S. workers at Snøhetta would join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW)—the same organizations that workers at Bernheimer pursued unionization through. 

AWU issued the following statement on behalf of Snøhetta workers:

We, the employees of Snøhetta’s U.S. studios, have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a union election.

We are architects, landscape architects, designers and operations staff who care deeply for Snøhetta, our projects, and the collaborative culture that makes our firm unique. 

We are proud of our work at Snøhetta and we are committed to our studio’s success. Through unionization, we will gain a collective voice in the future of our workplace and our profession. 

We are excited to take this next step together. Follow us here for updates on our election!

Together we build,

Snøhetta Union

The firm commented to AN about this announcement: “Snøhetta in the US supports our employees’ right to seek self-determination. We look forward to working with this group to better understand what joining a union might mean for the firm, our culture, our business, and our entire team. We have been told that their focus is on addressing industry-wide issues rather than challenges specifically within our studio.”

This initial filing initiates a process that may result in an NLRB-administered simple majority vote to establish a union. However, if Snøhetta chooses to voluntarily recognize the union, a vote is not required and union representatives can begin contract negotiations.

Last year’s development at Bernheimer Architecture was preceded by a campaign at SHoP Architects. The latter was the first significant attempt at an architecture firm in recent memory. The effort ultimately failed but also served to establish the working conditions of architects as a central part of contemporary architectural discourse.

This article was updated to include Snøhetta’s comment.