North Hollywood strippers union officially certified by National Labor Relations Board

One day after club owners withdrew their opposition, the National Labor Relations Board Thursday certified a vote by dancers at a North Hollywood topless bar, making them the only strippers in the nation to be represented by a union.

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Dancers at Star Garden Topless Dive Bar voted unanimously to unionize with the Actors' Equity Association, which represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers nationally. Formal tabulation of the dancers' vote, which was conducted late last year, had been on hold due to opposition by the bar owners to the unionization effort.

But the union announced Wednesday that the bar owners had dropped that opposition.

"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 Association President Kate Shindle said in a statement.

"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."

The roughly 30 dancers at Star Garden began picketing outside the club last year to protest alleged unsafe working conditions with the assistance of Strippers United, an organization that advocates for strippers' rights. The club's dancers said they were not adequately protected from threatening and abusive behavior by patrons.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: North Hollywood strippers looking to unionize for better working conditions

"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," one of the dancers, named Reagan, said in a statement Wednesday. "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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The Star Garden dancers are not the first strippers to ever unionize. Strippers at San Francisco's Lusty Lady organized the Exotic Dancers Union in 1996. They were affiliated with the Service Employees International Union. The Lusty Lady closed in 2013.