Strip club dancers to form only US topless union

Topless dancers at a strip club in Los Angeles have voted to form the only union for their work in the US after a prolonged fight with management.

Performers at the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood unanimously voted to collectivise on Thursday.

The 15-month long effort ended this week after the owners withdrew their opposition to unionisation.

The group says they are fighting for better pay and benefits, healthcare, and safer workplace conditions.

All 17 dancers voted in favour of the measure during a ballot count held virtually and in person by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Thursday.

The decision was emotional, according to CBS News, the BBC’s US partner. After the vote was held, several people cheered and cried, the network reported.

“The NLRB just counted our votes and it’s official!! We are UNIONIZED!! We did it!!” the dancers said on Twitter.

The dancers will join the Actor’s Equity Association, a entertainment union representing over 51,000 workers.

“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,” Actors’ Equity President Kate Shindle said in a statement.

“Every worker who wants a union, deserves a union.”

Actors’ Equity said the drive to unionise at Star Garden came after abuse from customers and alleged retaliation from management, the Associated Press reported.

Although the group are believed to be the only topless club to have a union in the US, they are not the first, according to the NLRB.

In 1997, workers at the Lusty Lady in San Francisco formed the Exotic Dancers Union – but the venue closed in 2013.

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