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Meet the Strippers Fighting For Fair Working Conditions

Strippers union efforts
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
Velveeta, a stripper, addresses the crowd attending a rally in support of strippers from the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar on August 19, 2022 in North Hollywood.

Adult entertainers in North Hollywood are fighting for the same protections granted to actors and other performers.

Los Angeles (CNN) — The owners of Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood expect to recognize and negotiate with a union of strippers who had been dismissed from the club in March 2022, when they protested for safe working conditions and picketed outside for months.

The negotiation is expected following a settlement hearing with union attorneys. When ballots are officially opened later this week, the strippers are expected to overwhelmingly win the union election, forming the first known union of strippers in the United States since the nation’s only unionized strip club, the Lusty Lady, closed in San Francisco in 2013.

The strippers will be represented by Actor’s Equity Association, which said in a statement that the two sides have agreed to meet across the bargaining table within 30 days to establish a first contract. The club will also bring back dancers who were dismissed last year.

“I’m excited that all of my beautiful coworkers will finally have a seat at the table and a voice to discuss safety and other issues,” said Sinder, a Star Garden dancer. “This is a big day for us and dancers everywhere.”

Star Garden had been closed for the last few months, and its owners had filed for bankruptcy. But with stipulation from the National Labor Relations Board and involved parties, the Star Garden owners will seek to dismiss its bankruptcy case, so that it can reopen in 30 to 60 days.

“Star Garden decided to settle, as it has always been a fair and equal opportunity employer, that respects the rights of its employees,” Attorney An Nguyen Ruda, representing the club, shared in a statement. “Star Garden is committed to negotiating in good faith with Actor’s Equity a first of its kind collective bargaining agreement which is fair to all parties.”

The union representing the dancers said the partnership made sense and praised them for their tenacity.

“Strippers are live entertainers. While some elements of their job are unique, they are essentially performance artists, and have a lot in common with other Equity members who dance for a living,” said Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle. “Every worker who wants a union deserves a union. The Star Garden dancers have been absolute warriors throughout this long process, and I’m thrilled that we’ve won recognition of their rights to safety and democracy in the workplace and representation at the bargaining table.”

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Natasha Chen