Strippers at North Hollywood club vote unanimously to unionize

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

Dancers at Star Garden Topless Dive Bar voted unanimously to unionize with the Actors’ Equity Association, with 17 votes in favor, according to a ballot count held 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 are UNIONIZED!! We did it!!” the dancers said via a Twitter account.

The NLRB held a union election last year, but the vote count was held up by a challenge from workers at the bar. As part of a drawn-out legal battle between Star Garden and its performers, the venue had filed for bankruptcy. Star Garden settled with the labor board earlier this month and agreed to drop the bankruptcy proceedings, reinstate eight fired dancers, give workers back pay and immediately begin negotiating with the union if it were to win, according to the NLRB.

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

According to Actors’ Equity, the fight to unionize began in March of last year, after patrons of the bar exhibited “threatening and abusive behavior” toward dancers against which security failed to intervene. The dancers also said they’ve experienced wage theft, and that they were fired after bringing their concerns to management. 

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

According to the NLRB, this isn’t the first time strippers have engaged in collective bargaining. Dancers at the Lusty Lady in San Francsico organized the Exotic Dancers Union in 1997, but the venue closed in 2013.

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