North Hollywood bar Star Garden reopens as nation’s only unionized strip club

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Friday, August 25, 2023 6:09AM

ABC7 Eyewitness News

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Topless dancers at a North Hollywood bar returned to the stage – this time as the only unionized group of strippers in the U.S.

There was a celebration of unity outside Star Garden Topless Dive Bar Thursday night. The bar reopened after a lengthy shutdown.

Dancers and their supporters rallied outside the bar. Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello also showed up and played a couple of songs in solidarity with the dancers.

The club’s strippers walked off the job nearly a year and a half ago. They’re returning to work as members of the Actors’ Equity Association labor union, becoming the nation’s only strippers with union representation.

“I feel completely incredible. It’s so surreal to not only be a member of a union as a stripper, but also to work in a club that is unionized,” said union member Lilith.

Workers from other labor unions also joined the club’s strippers to show support.

The dancers made the decision to leave the strip club after they became frustrated with management. They say their concerns about issues, including abusive treatment by patrons and safety, were not being addressed.

“What has been so impressive is that the labor movement has embraced us from the get go,” said union member Velveeta.

Star Garden agreed to recognize the union and meet at the bargaining table. For now, the strippers will work under an interim agreement.

“Two weeks ago I was worried that we weren’t going to get to a reopening, and we’re here,” said Kate Shindle, the president of the Actors’ Equity Association. “We’re not done bargaining we still have to finish the contract but it was important to get them back to work.”

“We just hope that we can inspire other strippers to see what collective power looks like in the workplace because that’s really what the union is about,” Velveeta said. “The union is about workers coming together and standing together arm in arm.”

Copyright © 2023 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.

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