Friday, February 23

California exotic dancers to vote over joining a union

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NEW YORK — Thirty exotic dancers at a topless bar in Hollywood, California are set to vote over whether to join the Actors Equity Association, and a majority “yes” vote would make them the only organized group of strippers in the United States.

Regulators from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) set a vote date in a memo on Thursday.

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Workers across industries and professions are increasingly seeking workplace protections and benefits through unions. From and Apple Inc to Starbucks Corp, unionization efforts are gaining momentum.

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If the majority of the estimated 30 strippers vote to unionize, they will join the Actors Equity Association, a union that represents 51,000 professional actors and stage managers.

The Star Garden Topless Dive Bar dancers have picketed for months for better workplace conditions including better security and safer stages as well as higher compensation and access to benefits, according to Velveeta, a dancer at the bar who prefers to go by the stage name to avoid being blacklisted.

After initially presenting their petition to the club’s owner, the women were denied access and could not return to work.

The owner of the Star Garden Bar could not be immediately reached for comment.

The owners of the bar argued at two hearings in September that they did not meet the gross revenue threshold of $500,000 to be under the jurisdiction of the NLRB.

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The NLRB’s Los Angeles regional director issued a decision that the Star Garden did meet the board’s standards for live entertainment venues and ordered a mail-in ballot election, according to the memo.

Ballots will be mailed to the dancers on October 14th and the ballot count will be held on November 7th.

Star Garden’s dancers are not the first strippers to seek union representation. Strippers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady organized the Exotic Dancers Union in 1996 and were affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, according to the Actors’ Equity Association.

The Lusty Lady closed in 2013. (Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo; Editing by Anna Driver and Chizu Nomiyama)