Dancers at a Los Angeles topless bar are expected to form the only unionized group of strippers in the U.S. later this week, organizers said Tuesday.
The National Labor Relations Board had approved a petition for union recognition election back in October, but Star Garden Topless Dive Bar challenged the validity of certain voters, the Actors’ Equity Association said in a statement. The union has worked with the dancers for over a year on their organization efforts, Actors Equity said Tuesday.
An Ruda, a lawyer representing the bar, said a resolution has been reached and the challenges were withdrawn, paving the way for the NLRB to certify the election vote.
“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,” Ruda said in a statement.
The bar had also filed for bankruptcy, but agreed to seek a dismissal of the bankruptcy case so that Star Garden can reopen within 30-60 days of the dismissal, the lawyer said. The bar will also bring back dancers who were dismissed last year, according to Actors’ Equity.
“This is not just a win for the dancers at this club, but the entire strip club industry,” Lilith, a Star Garden dancer, said. “Strippers who want to unionize their workplaces and have a voice in the way their clubs are run now have a clear path forward.”
The fight for unionization began in March of 2022 when security at the bar failed to protect dancers from “threatening and abusive behavior for patrons,” according to the Actors’ Equity Association. Dancers also raised concerns about health and safety issues along with wage theft. They said they were being illegally fired for bringing concerns to management. Star Garden strippers picketed outside the establishment several times as they fought for unionization.
“Every worker who wants a union deserves a union,” Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle said. “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.”
The NLRB will formally count the unionization votes on Thursday, NPR reported, following a six-month delay.
Will the union would be the only one of its kind in the country, the dancers at Star Garden would not be the first group of strippers in the U.S. to unionize. According to the Actors’ Equity Association, dancers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady unionized in 1997, but the bar closed in 2013.
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