North Hollywood strippers vote for union membership

The Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood will soon be able to provide ballots for collective bargaining elections. This could lead to the creation of the first stripper union in America in over a decade.

The National Labor Relations Board’s Los Angeles Regional Director issued the decision to allow for an election on Thursday in a case that began when 18 dancers were expelled from the club in March.

The club’s security guards have repeatedly failed to protect the strippers from abusive and threatening behavior from patrons, according to the Strippers.

The NLRB will count Star Garden entertainers, dancers, and DJs’ votes on Nov. 7. This will determine if they will join Actors Equity Association. It is a union for performers and other professionals in show business. They would become the first unionized strippers to be in America since the closure of the Lusty Lady in San Francisco in 2013. Actors Equity said they were successful.

“The NLRB ruling is not surprising. It is clear that Star Garden workers are entitled to vote in a union election,” stated Andrea Hoeschen (assistant executive director and general counsel of Actors Equity Association). “We look forward to a successful election, and the contract negotiations that will follow.”

Star Garden’s attorney and the owner did not return calls or emails. They did not reply to two other stories regarding the unionization efforts.

This election is coming as the NLRB reports a 53 percent increase in union representation petitions filed during the twelve months ending September 30, compared with the previous year. This is the largest number of union representation petitions since fiscal 2016.

The NLRB reported a 19% increase in unfair labor practices charges compared to the 12 months prior.

Star Garden dancers shared that they were inspired and attended a Chicago labor conference this summer, where they met other organizers.

The spring was when they had to deal with issues from the spring. One of the dancers who goes by Velveeta on the stage tried to get a patron not to delete a video of him taking off their fellow dancers on stage. This is against club rules.

One worker who complained was fired. A petition was signed by several dancers asking for the reinstatement of their colleagues and the enforcement of no-photography policies. The next day, they were expelled from the club.

Since then, patrons have been urged to visit different clubs by the dancers who picket outside the Star Garden every weekend in themed costumes.

In August, she said that the owners assumed the customer was always right and dismissed dancers’ complaints as “starting drama.”

She said that she witnessed a dancer being pulled by her shoe across the stage, another dancer being slapped and other dancers being inappropriately touched.

Velveeta stated that the NLRB’s decision to allow a union vote was a significant step forward and gave her renewed energy to continue pushing for a union contract. We have done so much and I am proud of what we’ve achieved. We are excited and in love with one another, and are more united than ever before going into the election.”

Actors Equity reports that about 30 strippers can vote on joining the union. Actors Equity, a 109-year-old union represents 51,000 actors and other professionals who work on Broadway shows and performances at Disney World.

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