Portland – Today, Actors’ Equity Association was elected as the exclusive bargaining representative for the dancers employed at Magic Tavern, a strip club located at Northwest 24th Avenue and Nicolai Street in Portland, Ore. When the ballot count was announced at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s Subregional Office 36, the tally was unanimous, with all 16 votes in favor of union representation.
“Watching the pile of yes votes get bigger and bigger was incredible,” said Poppy, one of the newly unionized strippers. (We refer to all strippers by their stage names to protect their safety.) “It was truly a physical representation of all of our hard work. I won’t ever forget it!”
“Hearing all of the yes votes (and zero no’s) as we won our election made me feel so incredibly proud of my fellow union strippers, and so incredibly hopeful for the future of this industry,” said Nyx, another of the Magic Tavern dancers. “It’s surreal that strippers are finally getting a seat at the bargaining table, and we are so excited to negotiate our first contract in order to return to work in a safer and more equitable environment.”
“I’m thrilled for these workers. They not only knew their rights; they knew they had to stick together and never let up,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “Yes, this is proof that strippers joining a union is no fluke, and that workers who want a union can have a union. In this moment, it means that another group of dancers is on the path to a fairer, safer workplace. But it’s also a win for the labor movement, particularly those in stigmatized and marginalized industries where their needs are routinely overlooked or ignored. We are eager to get to the bargaining table and get them back into their club.”
The dancers at the Magic Tavern have been on strike since April due to the unsafe working conditions at the club. In June, they announced Actors’ Equity Association as their bargaining representative. With their NLRB recognition, these workers have become one of only two groups of strip clubs employees in the country to be unionized. The other, Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood, won their campaign to organize with Equity in May. That club recently reopened, and the workers are currently in bargaining for their first union contract.
Equity encourages all workers in live performance who feel they would benefit from a union contract to contact the union’s organizing department at actorsequity.org/organize.
** For additional information, please refer to this list of suggestions for terminology to use and avoid when writing about the unionizing strippers of Magic Tavern.
ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org #EquityWorks
September 7, 2023