• The strippers will be represented by the Actors' Equity Association
  • The club filed for bankruptcy in 2022 while fighting against unionization
  • Now the bar plans to reopen and bring back dancers who were laid off last year

Dancers at a dive bar in Los Angeles, California, are making history by becoming the first unionized group of strippers in the country.

Dancers at Star Garden Topless Dive Bar have been involved in a 15-month battle with the North Hollywood club for higher compensation and safer workplace conditions. After months of negotiations, lawyers representing the owners of the club have withdrawn all election challenges and agreed on recognizing the union, CNN reported Tuesday.

"Star Garden is committed to negotiating in good faith with Actor's Equity a first-of-its-kind collective bargaining agreement which is fair to all parties," An Ruda, a lawyer with the bar, said in a statement accessed by CBS News.

Once the ballots open Thursday, the strippers are expected to win the union election with a huge majority. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will then certify the union election vote for the dancers to officially unionize and enter collective bargaining with management.

With the board's certification, the strippers will be represented by the Actors' Equity Association, which represents more than 51,000 actors and stage managers.

"Every worker who wants a union deserves a union," Kate Shindle, president of the Actors' Equity Association, said, according to CNN. "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."

Dancers have been running a union campaign for more than a year, seeking comprehensive safety measures, including a cleaner workplace and protections against harassment.

Velveeta, a Star Garden dancer, underlined the need for the management to take inappropriate touching more seriously.

"Not respecting our boundaries on inappropriate touching, and touching on stage and in the lap dance area that we didn't approve of and it was uncomfortable," she said, as per ABC7.

Resisting strippers' complaints, club owners fired several of them for raising their voices against the bar's mismanagement in March 2022. Speaking with NPR, many dancers shared details of the lack of COVID-19 precautionary measures at the club, customers filming them without consent and unsafe stage conditions.

After reaching an agreement with the dancers, the club owners issued a statement saying they were withdrawing their election challenges to allow the ballots to move forward.

"Star Garden decided to settle, as it has always been a fair and equal opportunity employer, that respects the rights of its employees. As part of the settlement, Star Garden withdraws its election challenges and a ballot count will move forward," the statement reportedly read.

The club filed for bankruptcy in 2022 while fighting against unionization, but after finalizing an agreement with the dancer, owners said they were now moving to dismiss the bankruptcy case.

The bar plans to reopen within 30 to 60 days of the dismissal and bring back dancers who were laid off last year, the club's lawyers reportedly said.

"I'm excited that all of my beautiful coworkers will finally have a seat at the table and a voice to discuss safety and other issues," Sinder, a stripper at the bar, said in a statement released by Actors' Equity Association, as reported by ABC7. "This is a big day for us and dancers everywhere."

It will be the first club in the country to have unionized strippers since the Lusty Lady in San Francisco, which unionized in 1997 and shut down in 2013.

Representative Image Eric Nopanen/Unsplash