After months of protests, the National Labor Relations Board has approved an election for dancers at a topless bar in North Hollywood
"This campaign has sort of lifted the veil on the stigmatization of dancers, and also how we are overcoming that," said a former exotic dancer named Reagan on Saturday. "There's no watchdog group looking out for strippers. That's what I think a union can be."
If the exotic performers at the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar chose to organize, they will be the only dancers in the United States to be represented by a union.
"Every worker who wants a union deserves a union, including the live performers in strip clubs," said Kate Shindle, president of the Actors' Equity Association. "This decision moves us one step closer. The employer deployed every tactic they could think of to stall or prevent a union election, choosing to allocate resources to a union-busting law firm instead of simply negotiating a fair contract with their workers."
The Actors' Equity Association is a possible union to represent the dancers and represent more than 51,000 professional theater actors and stage managers in live theatre. The organization started working with the Star Garden workers, which include DJs, in August.
"This ruling by the NLRB affirms that the Star Garden dancers have the right to vote on whether our union will represent them," Shindle added. "Equity is eager to join them at the bargaining table to secure a contract that provides protections against discrimination and harassment, addresses health and safety concerns, and spells out wages, benefits and other specifics."
The NLRB will mail ballots to the workers on Oct. 14 and count the votes on Nov. 7.
The dancers have been protesting since March because of unsafe conditions after being inadequately protected from threatening and abusive behavior by patrons. According to them, they were locked out of their jobs after picketing outside the club.
"Security was informed by the management not to intervene if there was a problem with a customer, between a customer and a dancer," Reagan explained. "The dancer was told simply diffuse the situation, don't cause any drama, just smile and walk away — no matter what the instance is."
Ultimately, they're hoping that with the pending success of their movement, they can inspire other dancers around the nation to follow suit.
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