Here’s what you need to know:
Last July, dancers from strip clubs in Seattle started organizing with Working WA. We reached out to our coworkers, and together we organized meetings to talk about some of the key issues in the industry.
Dancing can be a path to economic mobility for workers in WA. But right now, dancers are facing a predatory business model that strips workers of our rights & fair pay. Dancers have to pay $140-200 a night just to work at the clubs. Our options are limited because of a large corporate chain that controls the majority of clubs in WA. We face some serious health and safety risks at work, from lack of heat and running water to management that doesn’t take assault & harassment seriously. And the stigma surrounding sex work means dancers are too often subject to regulations that don’t truly respond to our needs & often make doing our job harder and more dangerous.
That’s why dancers have come together to fight for our rights. We started by talking to legislators about some of the workplace issues we see at clubs in WA, and proposing clear steps to address them. Out of those conversations came HB 1756, the dancers safety and security bill, which creates state-developed know-your-rights trainings for dancers, requires clubs to provide panic buttons & “blacklist” customers who have assaulted dancers, and creates an advisory committee of dancers to inform the process of implementing these & future policies.
What does the bill do?
Creates a new Know Your Rights training, developed by WA L&I, that dancers take before getting our municipal business license. The training will not add to license fees, and it will be developed with the input of dancers. Areas it will cover include:
Rights of dancers as independent contractors
Information on how to report workplace injuries and abuses, including sexual and physical abuse and sexual harassment
The economics of dancing
List of resources for assistance on the issues covered in the training
Requires strip clubs to install panic buttons in secluded areas, including VIP rooms.
Requires strip clubs to record dancers’ reports of violence by customers and to make every effort to identify the customer and keep those records for five years. It is up to individual dancers to decide when or if to report. If a dancer chooses to make a formal statement about a customer behaving violently, the club must place the customer on a blacklist preventing them from returning to the club for at least three years. These lists must be shared among clubs with common ownership.
Creates an “adult entertainment advisory committee” to consider additional steps that could be taken to improve safety, health, and security for dancers, as well as provide feedback on how well the regulations in this bill are working. These recommendations will be collected by the Department of Labor & Industries and provided to the legislature if additional legislative action is needed. The advisory committee must be composed of at least 50% dancers who have held a business license in the state of WA for 5 years.
We’ve created a lot of power by advocating for these changes & will continue to fight for more. The issues we’re organizing around go far beyond health and safety in our workplaces — we need true independence from clubs, financial stability, the freedom to do our work without facing misguided attempts to “protect” us by criminalizing us, and a way to hold management accountable. Check out the Strippers Are Workers page for more info on some of the issues we’ve been discussing!