SHoP Architects employees drop unionization effort

Architectural Workers United cited “powerful anti-union campaign”

SHoP Architects Gregg Pasquarelli (LinkedIn, Architectural Workers United, iStock)
SHoP Architects Gregg Pasquarelli (LinkedIn, Architectural Workers United, iStock)

Employees at one of New York’s top architecture firms dropped a potentially historic unionization effort days ahead of an essential vote.

Architectural Workers United announced the move in a tweet on Thursday.

“With great sadness, we have pulled our petition to unionize” the group said. “But we will not stop fighting for all other architectural unions in the making and continue to support all workers who deserve justice. Thank you all for supporting us in this journey.”

The group of employees cited a “powerful anti-union campaign” that came up against the group’s effort. After challenges to “not only gain support, but also retain it,” the statement said employees would pursue other ways of creating change at the firm.

Internal tensions included some associate principals at the firm circulating a petition to have employees pull the union vote that was scheduled for the end of this week, according to Curbed. One associate principal told the outlet some clients had threatened to stop work with the firm if the union effort succeeded.

The firm has been largely silent about the issue, but, in a statement to the outlet after the vote was pulled, endorsed the move.

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“The decision by the International Association of Machinists and the Architecture Workers United to withdraw their NLRB election petition reflects our staff’s clear desire to determine our collective future together as an employee-owned firm,” a spokesperson for SHoP said.

The spokesperson also dismissed “any allegations of bad faith campaigning” as “unfounded.”

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SHoP recently switched to an employee-owned benefits plan, which associate principal Shannon Han told Curbed was an example of a solution to grievances highlighted by the union.

More than half of eligible employees pledged support for the unionization effort as of December, The New York Times reported at the time. If successful, the union was poised to be the most prominent for a private-sector architecture firm in the nation.

The unionization effort first kicked off in the fall of 2020. Supporters expressed concerns about the industry-wide burden of long hours and little pay. The union’s policy priorities included changes to the overtime policy, such as giving an employee one hour off after every two hours of overtime worked.