North Hollywood strippers will vote on whether to form a union.

North Hollywood strippers will vote on whether to form a union.

North Hollywood strippers will vote on whether to form a union.
Jacob Lee Green/Sipa USA/AP

Strippers at the Star Garden topless dive club in North Hollywood will soon get votes for a collective bargaining election, which might result in the first stripper union in the United States in more than a decade.

The National Labor Relations Board's Los Angeles regional director issued the verdict and order for an election on Thursday in a dispute that began in March when 18 dancers were kept out of the club.

Among the complaints raised by the strippers is the club's security officers' continuous failure to protect them from threatening and abusive guests.

The NLRB will collect Star Garden dancers, entertainers, and DJs' ballots on Nov. 7 to determine whether they will join the Actors Equity Association, a union of performers and other show industry professionals. If they are successful, they will be the first unionized strippers in the United States since the Lusty Lady in San Francisco, which shuttered in 2013, according to Actors Equity.

"The NLRB decision is not surprising. "The facts are clear: the workers at Star Garden are entitled to a union election," stated Andrea Hoeschen, Actors' Equity Association's assistant executive director and general counsel. "We look forward to a successful election and the subsequent contract negotiations."

Calls and emails to the owner and Star Garden's attorney were not responded. They also did not reply to two previous CNN articles regarding the unionization attempt.

The NLRB reported a 53 percent rise in union representation applications submitted in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, compared to the previous year. According to the government, this is the most requests for union representation filed since fiscal year 2016.

In addition, the NLRB recorded a 19% rise in unfair labor practice accusations compared to the same 12 months the prior year.

Star Garden dancers told CNN that they were inspired by earlier unionization initiatives in other sectors, and that they even visited a labor convention in Chicago during the summer, where they met other organizers.

Their problems began in the spring, when a few dancers attempted to persuade a client to erase a video he recorded of a colleague on stage, which is against club rules, according to one of the dancers, Velveeta.

However, one of the employees who protested was sacked. Several dancers signed a petition demanding that their colleagues be reinstated and that the no-photography regulation be enforced. The next day, they were barred out of the club.

Since then, the dancers have been picketing outside the Star Garden on most weekends, dressed in themed costumes, pushing clients to go to different clubs.

Velveeta requested that CNN only identify her by her professional name in order to avoid being banned or followed.

In August, she told CNN that the proprietors managed the place as though the client was always right, with one of them often dismissing dancers' complaints as "creating drama."

Nonetheless, she claimed to have seen a customer pull a dancer across the stage by her shoe, another dancer being smacked, and others being improperly touched by patrons.

"Our is a significant step forward for us in this struggle and is giving us renewed energy to keep the pressure on until we obtain our union contract," Velveeta stated in response to the NLRB decision to enable a union election. I am extremely proud of the effort we've done and the results we've achieved. We're vibrating with enthusiasm and affection for one another, and we're more united than ever as we head into this election."

According to Actors Equity, around 30 strippers are qualified to vote on whether or not to join the union. The 109-year-old organization represents 51,000 performers and other professionals who work on everything from Broadway musicals to Disney World productions and hundreds of theaters around the country.

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