Local 0069

Friday, September 24, 2010

Question

I have recently begun working as a stripper. I have to say I'm not exactly impressed with certain working conditions: clubs fees and no base pay for starters, never mind the outrageous licensing fees. Has anyone ever tried to unionize strip clubs in Canada, and would I be crazy for trying?

Answer

In the late 70s, CABE (the Canadian Association of Burlesque Entertainers) attempted to unionize under the CLC. Failing to secure their local, CABE supported licensing strippers, hoping, as an article on the CSIS walnet site says, "that it would help improve working conditions. Instead licensing led to the closing of all but the most corrupt clubs, and the city was flooded with out-of-town table dancers. Conditions for strippers have gotten worse, while Metro Toronto profits from licensing fees." More here:walnet.org/csis/legal_tips/trials/barefacts.html.

In the United States, one strip club (better described as a live peepshow) is unionized, the Lusty Lady (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lusty_Lady, iww.org/gu/node/2897). The Lusty push to unionize was rooted in racial discrimination and working conditions that compromised worker safety and privacy. Three months after the workers unionized, the owners put the club up for sale, and in 2003 the workers purchased the club and turned it into a worker run co-op (lustyladysf.com/history).

I can't get over how much effort and energy it has taken (and continues to take) to enact both these models. As an activist, I'm quite in awe.

But as a stripper, I want to go where the money is high and the processing is low. Union? I love the idea, even though many of its tenets defy realistic issues in the industry. Worker co-op? Hell no. I'm at a club to make money showing people my ass, not to quibble over toilet paper stock and neo-feminist academic political principles.

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