Strippers at North Hollywood club vote unanimously to unionize

A North Hollywood strip club has become the only unionized adult club in the country after a protracted battle between the dancers and management.

Dancers at the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar voted unanimously to unionize with the Actors’ Equity Association, with 17 votes in favor, according to a count of ballots by the National Labor Relations Board Thursday afternoon. The vote was emotional, with observers in the room and on Zoom crying and cheering after the votes were counted.

“The NLRB just counted our votes and it’s official!! We’re UNIONIZED!! We did it!!” the dancers said through a Twitter account.

The NLRB held a union election last year, but the vote count was halted due to a challenge from bar workers. As part of a long legal battle between Star Garden and its artists, the place had declared bankruptcy. Star Garden settled with the labor board earlier this month, agreeing to drop bankruptcy proceedings, reinstate eight laid-off dancers, return the workers’ wages and immediately begin negotiations with the union if it wins, according to the NLRB.

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The club will reopen within 30 to 60 days of the bankruptcy dismissal, according to Actors’ Equity. The club’s attorneys previously told CBS News that they were “committed to negotiating in good faith with Actor’s Equity a first-of-its-kind collective bargaining agreement that is fair to all parties.”

According Actors’ Equity, the fight for unionization began in March of last year, after patrons of the bar exhibited “threatening and abusive behavior” towards the dancers against whom security did not intervene. The dancers also said they have suffered wage theft and were fired after raising their concerns with management.

“Strippers are live performers. While some elements of their work are unique, they are essentially performance artists and have much in common with other Equity members who dance for a living,” said Kate Shindle, President of Actors’ Equity , it’s a statement. “Every worker who wants a union deserves a union.”

According to the NLRB, this is not the first time that strippers have engaged in collective bargaining. The Lusty Lady dancers in San Francisco organized the Exotic Dancers Union in 1997, but the venue closed in 2013.

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