Strippers At North Hollywood Club Win Fight To Unionize In What Actors’ Equity Calls “Complete Victory”

Dancers at North Hollywood’s Star Garden Topless Dive Bar have become the nation’s only unionized strippers, officially joining Actors’ Equity after a 15-month battle with the venue’s owners.

Equity called the union recognition a “complete victory” for the dancers.

In a statement released by Equity, one of the Star Garden dancers who goes by the single name Reagan said, “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. 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.”

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Lawyers representing the owners of the Star Garden withdrew election challenges in a settlement hearing with union attorneys, agreeing to recognize the union. Both sides will meet within 30 days to negotiate a first contract. The club, which will reopen for business, agreed to rehire dancers who were dismissed last year.

“I’m excited that all of my beautiful coworkers will finally have a seat at the table and a voice to discuss safety and other issues,” said dancer Sinder. “This is a big day for us and dancers everywhere.”

Equity is best known as the union for Broadway and touring stage productions, but also represents stages at Walt Disney World and dozens of smaller venues and regional theaters. The Star Garden dancers are the first strippers to join the union.

“Strippers are live entertainers,” said Equity President Kate Shindle. “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. 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.”

According to Equity, dancers at strip clubs routinely have issues with health, safety, wage theft, benefits and protection from sexual harassment. The Star Garden dancers’ efforts to unionize began in 2022 when they said the club’s security guards repeatedly failed to offer protection from the threatening and abusive behavior of patrons. Dancers, some of whom were fired after voicing concerns, began picketing outside the club on Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.

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