AUSTIN (KXAN) – Better wages, workplace improvements and more transparency. These are the things employees at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s South Lamar site say they need, and they’ve officially unionized to address their concerns.
Duncan Lott has been employed at Alamo Drafthouse since 2016. He says he noticed a big change in the company’s culture at its South Lamar location when it reopened after the peak of the pandemic.
“We realized how bad the situation between business and small business had become,” Lott said.
That’s why he, along with other employees there, officially unionized. Their top demands include wage and benefit increases, resolution of longstanding building maintenance requests, and transparent COVID-19 protocols.
“One of the things is we had buffer seats and the website mandated two seats between each person and one day we just didn’t have that,” Lott said.
On its website, Alamo Drafthouse says it is dramatically increasing cleanings and has installed special air filtration systems in many locations.
Union members want the company to let them participate more when decisions are made.
Although unions are not common in Texas, a right-to-work state, attorney Daniel Ross of the Ross Scalise Law Group says unions help negotiate with an employer.
“I think there is no doubt that he has more weight. If they are able, as a union, to negotiate better wages or better working conditions than individual employees, it is obviously up to them. because of the weight they have as a collective,” Ross said.
If there is no agreement between the union and the employer, Ross said there are different mechanisms to facilitate the process.
“They involve arbitrators and arbitrate disputes over issues that cannot be decided between unions and employers themselves,” Ross said.
Lott says the company has acknowledged receiving the concerns the union sent them.
Lott says the union will also continue to address employee concerns at staff meetings until action is taken.
“We’re all unionizing because we love it so much, that’s why we’re not leaving,” Lott said.
KXAN has contacted Alamo Drafthouse and we are awaiting a response.