Exotic dancers at a Los Angeles bar are likely to become the country’s only unionized strippers after their employer, the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood, decided to recognize their group this week, after a 15-month battle.
The drive to unionize the dancers is scheduled to be confirmed in a Thursday ballot, following months of late-night picketing outside the LA theater. It is the first time in the Actors’ Equity Association’s century-long history that it would defend strip club workers, after previously protecting the employment rights of singers, dancers, and Broadway actors.
“The sacrifices we made were definitely sacrifices, but it was for something bigger than us,” Charlie, a 23-year-old Star Garden exotic dancer, told the Guardian on Thursday.
She stated that she was striving for “a future in which unionization is available to strippers who desire it.” That’s bigger than not being able to pay your rent.”
After some Star Garden dancers protested to management about unsafe working conditions, a push to organize collective bargaining on their behalf began in March 2022. It was also claimed that some strippers’ jobs were terminated when they exposed improper customer behavior.
Last year, the exotic dancers voted to unionize, but the results were delayed after Star Garden management stated objections to the ballot and filed legal action.
“Strippers are live entertainers,” stated Kate Shindle, president of the union, according to multiple outlets. “While some aspects of their job are unique, they are essentially performance artists who share many similarities with other Equity members who dance for a living.” Shindle added said the Star Garden dancers were “absolute warriors throughout this long process.”
Kanyidaily earlier reported how Ruda, a lawyer for the Star Garden club, told The Washington Post in a statement published on Wednesday that management “is committed to negotiating in good faith with Actors’ Equity a first of its kind collective bargaining agreement that is fair to all parties.”
The Star Garden Club will reinstate workers who were previously fired during the workers’ strike as part of its acceptance of the strippers’ right to unionize.