For almost eight months, strippers at North Hollywood’s topless bar, Star Garden, have been on the picket line, protesting against what they say are unfair labor practices. Over the past few days, they’ve been voting on whether to organize as members of the union Actors’ Equity. The votes got counted today, but now there’s a glitch as to whether the votes can go forward without court intervention.
“[The strippers] had issues with rowdy customers, and there wasn't a clear line of command for how to deal with being harassed, being touched,” says reporter Giuliana Mayo. “And then there were other things like OSHA violations: ripped up carpet that they would trip over and even a rodent infestation.”
To make ends meet while they’re protesting and not working, the strippers have been relying on community members.
One stripper who goes by the name Lilith says, “We started an action fund for people to donate to, so that we could sustain ourselves while we were out of work. But it's definitely been a hard financial hit, and one that we feel is worth it. We think the sacrifice is absolutely worth what this will do for the industry.”
Mayo adds that it’s been difficult for anyone to get a direct comment from the strip club’s owners. But the owners’ lawyers released a statement that the dancers are independent contractors and thus don’t get the rights or benefits afforded to regular employees.