Usually, when you reach the intersection of exotic dancers and employment law, you find Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits, like this one, about misclassifying dancers as independent contractors.
But this situation. This one is different. Very different.
According to Otillia Steadman, writing here for Buzzfeed News, a group of strippers at a topless dive bar in Los Angeles seeks to form the first union of adult entertainers in the United States.
Ms. Steadman reports that the dancers filed many unfair labor practices against the bar in mid-March, voted to unionize in late March, and began negotiating with management this month over recognition of their union, which will be part of the labor organization “Strippers United.”
(Pro Tip: Don’t google “Strippers United” at work, or IT will have a heart attack. Fortunately, the Bloggerdome’s servers have seen it all — purely work-related, of course. And the results aren’t as lascivious as I assumed they would be. Here is a link to a more SFW Strippers United Twitter feed.)
About a month ago, I blogged that attempts to form unions are skyrocketing.
Why do employees seek to form unions? Employees form unions because of insufficient wages, benefits and hours, perceived disrespect from management, unanswered employee complaints, and poor/unsafe working conditions.
The situation with the strippers from Los Angeles is no different. The Buzzfeed article notes that the strippers staged a walkout over safety concerns and weeks of picketing in front of the club.
Perhaps, what blew me away most about this story is how little time it took them to unionize:
The union drive was organized in a matter of weeks, after the group says two dancers, who are known in the club as Reagan and Selena, were wrongfully terminated after speaking out about safety concerns. Eight dancers gathered in the club on March 18 to present a petition to management, which demanded the reinstatement of the dancers along with changes to security protocols and copies of contracts and the club’s policies. They say they were told they could leave that night if they felt unsafe, but would be allowed to retain their jobs. However, management demanded one-on-one conversations before they would be allowed to return, and the picketers have declined, demanding instead a response to their petition.
I imagine that the attrition at a topless dive bar in California is high. So, unionization seemingly in just weeks is proof that it can happen anywhere, under any conditions, and fast.
You may think that your employees would never be so bold as to form a union. But, if your business is unprepared for that possibility, it may be too late to do anything about it when it starts.
Do HR, managers, and supervisors know how to spot the signs and how to respond? If not, consider training from a professional.
I may know a guy who does just that.