AUSTIN (KXAN) – Better wages, workplace improvements and more transparency. Those are the things employees at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s South Lamar location say they need and they have formally unionized to get their concerns addressed.
Duncan Lott has been an employee at Alamo Drafthouse since 2016. He says he noticed a big shift in company culture at his location on South Lamar when it re-opened after the height of the pandemic.
“We realized just how bad the corporate versus small business thing had gotten,” Lott said.
That’s why he, along with other employees at that location, have formally unionized. Their key requests include increases in wages and benefits, a resolution to long-standing building maintenance requests and transparent COVID-19 protocols.
“One of the things is we had buffer seating and the website enforced two seats between each person and one day we just didn’t have that,” Lott said.
On its website, Alamo Drafthouse says it’s dramatically increasing cleanings and has installed special air filtration systems in many locations.
The union members want the company to let them give more input when decisions are made.
Although unions are not common in Texas, a right-to-work state, attorney Daniel Ross of Ross Scalise Law Group says unions do help when bargaining with an employer.
“I think there is no question that it holds more weight. If they are able, as a union, to negotiate better wages or better working conditions than individual employees are able to do, then obviously that’s because of the weight that that 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 help the process.
“They involve arbitrators and arbitrating the disputes on those items that can’t be decided between the unions and the employers themselves,” Ross said.
Lott says the company has acknowledged it received the concerns the union sent to them.
Lott says the union will also continue addressing employees’ concerns in staff meetings until action is taken.
“We are all unionizing because we love it so much, that’s why we aren’t leaving,” Lott said.
KXAN reached out to Alamo Drafthouse and we are waiting to hear back.