Washington Strippers Advocate for Comprehensive Workplace Protections

Strippers in Washington state are rallying for comprehensive workplace protections, aiming to establish the most comprehensive set of regulations in the United States. Advocates argue that these measures are necessary to address the wide regulation gaps that currently exist in the industry. The proposed legislation, known as the “strippers’ bill of rights,” includes provisions such as mandatory security guards, keypad access to dressing rooms, training on preventing sexual harassment, and protocols for handling violent customers.

The bills being considered in the state legislature are the result of six years of advocacy work by Strippers Are Workers, a dancer-led organization in Washington. They aim to address the lack of protections for strippers at the 11 clubs across the state. While Washington implemented some initial regulations in 2019, including panic buttons and customer blacklists, these new bills would significantly expand worker protections.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that only one other state, Illinois, has added worker protections for adult entertainers in recent years. However, these measures often fail to address workplace protections comprehensively. Efforts at the local level, such as unionization in Los Angeles and Portland, have also emerged. Additionally, a 2014 decision by the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that dancers at one Las Vegas club are employees entitled to minimum wage and other protections.

The proposed legislation in Washington would apply to all strippers, regardless of their employment status. Last year, a similar bill stalled due to concerns over allowing alcohol in strip clubs. The current bills being considered in both chambers have a better chance of passing, with over two dozen sponsors combined, in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Most dancers in Washington work as independent contractors and can face blacklisting if they report abuse or exploitation by managers. They receive payment directly from customers and are required to pay club fees, which can be as high as $200 per shift. The proposed House measure would cap club fees at $150 or 30% of their earnings during a shift, whichever is less, while prohibiting clubs from carrying over unpaid fees from previous shifts.

Strippers have shared stories of verbal abuse, assault, and exploitation, highlighting the urgent need for improved security and training. Concerns have been raised that implementing these protections without additional revenue from alcohol sales could lead to club closures, exacerbating the already challenging circumstances faced by workers in the industry.

Republican lawmakers express support for protecting employees in the adult entertainment industry but emphasize the need to strike a balance that considers the interests of workers, communities, and neighborhoods.

Andrea, a 24-year-old dancer in Seattle, recently completed her master’s degree in library sciences while continuing to work in the industry. She hopes that the proposed protections will be enacted, stating that they would greatly improve the working conditions for strippers.

In conclusion, the proposed legislation in Washington seeks to establish comprehensive workplace protections for strippers, addressing the existing regulation gaps in the industry. The bills, currently under consideration in the state legislature, have garnered significant support and aim to provide a safer and more respectful working environment for adult entertainers.


Author: CrimeDoor

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