Adult performers at a topless dive bar in North Hollywood have voted unanimously to form a union after a sometimes testy 15-month-long fight with management, making them the first union of strippers in a decade in the United States.
The dancers gained union recognition after the club’s management withdrew challenges to their guild election, the union announced Tuesday.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced Thursday that dancers, entertainers, and DJs at the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood, California, voted 17-0 to become represented by the Actors Equity Association — a labor union representing those who work in the entertainment industry.
“If you have been following our journey, then you know this has been a long, exhausting fight, which is why this victory is so sweet,” said Reagan, one of the Star Garden dancers. “We put everything we have into this campaign, and we were fortunate to have the support and solidarity from the club’s patrons, our allies and friends, the labor movement, and our union, Actors’ Equity Assn.”
Star Garden is expected to recognize and negotiate with the union to resolve unfair labor practices including rehiring employees dismissed by the club in 2022, paying backpay to staff, and not refiling for bankruptcy for at least a year, per NLRB’s press release.
Dancers at the bar had filed for union recognition in 2022 in a bid to get better pay, more security, and better protection against being unlawfully fired, Business Insider previously reported.
The ongoing campaign had been delayed because the club’s owners objected to the union vote initially but withdrew all challenges earlier this week, according to a press release from the Actors Equity Association.
They will become the first union of strippers in the US in a decade since the country’s only unionized strip club, the Lusty Lady in San Francisco, was shut down in 2013, according to CNN.
“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,” Sinder, a Star Garden dancer told CNN. “This is a big day for us and dancers everywhere.”
Once the decision was reached, the workers were emotional and several cheered and cried, CBS News reported.
The workers posted a picture on a Twitter account, Stripper Strike Noho, dedicated to representing the strike, celebrating the historic win saying: “The NLRB just counted our votes and it’s official!! We are UNIONIZED!! We did it!!!”
The NLRB just counted our votes and it’s official!! We are UNIONIZED!! We did it!!! 🙌 https://t.co/nqTdYLyfXH
— Equity Strippers Noho (@EquityStripNoHo) May 18, 2023
The strippers join the ranks of the Actors’ Equity Assn., becoming the first strip dancers in the union of more than 51,000 actors and stage managers.
“This is not just a win for the dancers at this club, but the entire strip club industry,” said Lilith, a Star Garden dancer. “Strippers who want to unionize their workplaces and have a voice in the way their clubs are run now have a clear path forward.”