Nude dancers get first-ever union contract
Apr. 12, 1997
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Their new labor contract includes only one sick day and one holiday, but the dancers at the Lusty Lady strip club hope it has other benefits.
``I hope it shows ... that we aren't a bunch of giggling sorority girls or hopeless drug addicts,'' said Jezibel Scott, ``but that we are intelligent women who are doing a very hard job and know how to fight for our rights.''
The first-ever contract for Scott and about 90 co-workers at the Lusty Lady _ including janitors, bouncers and cashiers _ provides pay increases bringing them to an average $25 an hour by the end of the year.
``Dancers aren't treated like princesses, they're treated like kitchen help,'' said Scott, a dancer and union member.
Now, at least, they will be better paid, she said Friday.
The workers at the Lusty Lady voted to organize in August, upset over the use of one-way mirrors on the private booths where they dance for patrons. The dancers complained that clients took photographs and videos of them.
The contract announced Thursday requires removal of the mirrors.
The dancers and their supporters think the contract could have an impact beyond the Lusty Lady, a fixture in one of the city's red light districts.
``There's a very, very large percentage of the sex industry that is legal and certainly ready to be organized,'' says Carol Leigh of the Sex Workers Caucus, a San Francisco-based lobbying group. ``I'm sure this is going to be an inspiration.''
Lusty Lady's union organizers and the Exotic Dancer's Alliance have received queries from Oregon, Washington, New York, Florida and other states.
``We've gotten calls, letters and e-mails from women all across the country,'' says Johanna Breyer, a former dancer and an Exotic Dancer's Alliance spokeswoman.
Now a graduate student, Breyer co-founded the alliance in 1992 when she was a dancer at the Market Street Cinema, where about 60 women have filed complaints over wages and hours with the state Labor Commission.
Another club, Mitchell Brothers Theatre, is facing a class-action suit from 480 women who claim the owners cheated them out of money, Breyer said.
Calls from The Associated Press to managers at the Lusty Lady, Market Street Cinema and Mitchell Brothers Theatre were not returned.