Earlier this year, the dancers at Star Garden Topless Dive Bar become the only unionized strippers in the US.
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The nation's only unionized strippers are staging an unfair labor practice strike set to last all weekend.
Dancers at the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood took to the streets Thursday night, protesting violations of federal labor laws by the club owner.
They were joined by dozens of supporters from their union, the Actor's Equity Association. Just a few months ago, the dancers were celebrating after becoming the nation's first unionized strippers.
"The conditions in the club have also been really challenging," said one dancer named Lilith. "There's been a lot of union busting from management and it's become ... it's gotten to the point that it has become unworkable for us."
Strippers originally walked off the job at Star Garden in 2022, protesting against abusive treatment and unsafe working conditions.
After nearly a year and a half, they reached a settlement with the club's owner. The dancers returned to work in August while negotiations continued between the union and the club.
"It was such a huge feat for them to settle with us and to start coming to the bargaining table, and it's been really disheartening to be in this position where we're so close to getting a contract, a historical contract," said one union member.
The dancers say a lot of their safety concerns have been addressed but they believe some of the changes made are meant to punish them for fighting for rights.
"So rather than empowering dancers to set their own boundaries and to go to security when we feel unsafe, we're now no longer are allowed to be anywhere near customers," said Lilith.
The dancers say the strike will continue through Sunday.
"We really believe in standing up for strippers and standing up for dancers in this position, and we've come so far, so far that we're not going give up right now," said a member.
The unionization effort at Star Garden reflects a growing trend within non-traditional industries where workers are stepping away from the cultural expectation to "just leave" when conditions are unacceptable. The last time strippers successfully unionized was in 1996 at the Lusty Lady Peepshow in San Francisco.