Service & Solidarity Spotlight: Los Angeles' Star Garden Dancers Become Nation's Only Unionized Strippers

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service & Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

After a 15-month effort, dancers at the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood, California, have gained union recognition and become the nation’s only unionized strippers.

"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 Association.”

Lawyers representing the owners of the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar agreed to recognize the union and will meet with Actors’ Equity Association (Equity) across the bargaining table within 30 days to negotiate a first contract. The club also will reopen for business and bring back dancers who were dismissed last year.

As a result of the settlement, the National Labor Relations Board will count the votes this week and is expected to certify Equity as the bargaining agent for Star Garden’s dancers.

This also is a first for Equity: “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 Association President Kate Shindle. “Every worker who wants a union deserves a union. The Star Garden dancers have been absolute warriors throughout this long process, and I'm thrilled that we’ve won recognition of their rights to safety and democracy in the workplace and representation at the bargaining table.”

Dancers at Star Garden and other strip clubs routinely have issues with health and safety as well as compensation, including wage theft. Like workers in other occupations, they want health insurance and other benefits. And probably more than most, they need protection from sexual harassment.