Unionizing seems to be sweeping the nation once again these days, and a group of Los Angeles strippers is next up on the agenda.

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Dancers at the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood voted to form a union back in March, after lodging numerous complaints about safety and privacy against the bar’s owners, Steve and Jenny Kazaryan.

In mid-March, the dancers walked out, frustrated with the working conditions and that two strippers were fired after speaking out about these issues. 

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“I was fired for bringing up a safety concern about a customer,” one former Star Garden worker identified as Reagan told More Perfect Union. “I saw red flags, and I was concerned that things were accelerating in an alarming way that could lead to obsession.”

She says she was mocked by management when broaching the subject and told the issue was her fault.

Strippers working at Star Garden have claimed that the management has safety protocols in place that prioritize profit over actual safety and discriminate against Black and brown dancers during the hiring process. Their list of demands includes prohibiting customers from taking photos or video of dancers in the club, allowing security to respond to requests for help without first speaking with management, and not firing strippers who stand up for themselves in “dangerous situations with customers.”

In addition to all of this, the bar reportedly hires workers as contractors and require them to receive a minimum of $200 in tips per shift or else they can immediately be fired. Knock LA notes that both of these practices are illegal under California law.

Because of all this, the dancers have organized with Strippers United to try to coerce the owners into recognizing their union. If they succeed, they stand to become the only unionized strip club in the United States, and the first strippers to organize successfully in 25 years.

“We really love this job, and we’re not trying to destroy Star Garden and we’re not trying to destroy stripping,” Reagan said. “We actually love Star Garden, and that’s why we’re putting up this fight. And we’re fighting for it, not against it.”

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*First Published: May 24, 2022, 7:05 am