Strippers at a Los Angeles club are trying to unionize and join the National Labor Relations Board to protect them from sexual harassment in the work place.
A majority of the strippers at North Hollywood’s Star Garden Topless Dive Bar have filed a petition to join the NLRB.
According to a press release about the situation from the Actor’s Equity Association, “if the dancers win their election and the results are certified by the NLRB, the Star Garden workers will become the only strippers in the United States represented by a union.”
“The bargaining unit will be affiliated with Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers employed in live theatre,” the press release continued.
The AEA argued that strippers do similar work to theatre actors and normal dancers — and that they need “protection from sexual harassment.”
“Strippers are live entertainers, and while some aspects of their job are unique, they have much in common with other Equity members who dance for a living,” said Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle.
Shindle continued, “in my conversations with them, these dancers reported consistent compensation issues — including significant wage theft — along with health and safety risks and violations. They want health insurance and other benefits, like workers’ compensation. They need protection from sexual harassment, discrimination and unjust terminations. Equity is well situated to advocate for these workers, and we are excited to welcome them into the labor movement at this extraordinary time. We applaud their efforts to seize their collective power and unionize, like so many others across the country who are fed up with toxic workplaces. When they approached us for support, we did what unions should do: we said yes.”
Strippers at the club began the process of unionizing in March, claiming that bouncers did not do enough to protect them from harassment by customers.
“We like what we do,” said a stripper going by the name Velveeta, like the cheese. “We would like our jobs even more if we had basic worker protections. We’re like so many other workers who have learned that it’s not a choice between suffering abuse or quitting. With a union, together, we can make needed improvements to our workplace.”
Strippers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady started a union called “the Exotic Dancers Union” in 1996, in affiliation with the Service Employees International Union.
The union operated until the Lusty Lady closed in 2013.
A rally in support of Star Garden strippers has been organized and is scheduled to take place on Friday, August 19, at 6:30 p.m., outside Equity’s offices, 5636 Tujunga Avenue in North Hollywood.
Following the rally, Star Garden’s strippers will be picketing at Star Garden Topless Dive Bar.