In our continuing story of stripper rights and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) we’re featuring exotic dancer advocate, Miss Sadie McLaren, who has generously allowed us to re-blog her stories of employment rights and helping other dancers learn more about the stripper industry.
Sadie McLaren lives and works in Davenport Iowa, and is a writer, a union officer at IAEU (International Adult Entertainment Union), a journalist, does public relations and speaks three languages. Visit her blog here: http://sadiesdiaries.blogspot.com/
What Exotic Dancers Should Know Before Organizing: Union Advice
Advocacy groups for exotic dancers are beginning to pop up all over the USA. The most well-known right now are “Soldiers of Pole”, led by Domino Rey and they’re currently protesting Los Angeles clubs. The new Dynamex ruling (see link) dictated that California dancers have been mislabeled; they’re told they are independent contractors, when really they’re employees of these clubs.
They’re on strict schedules and follow most of the criteria needed to be a legal employee, their job description has been reclassified and many are confused about how any of this is positive. They’re now employees, meaning they get W4/W2 forms, or W9, and no longer have to be responsible for IRS form 1099. The 1099 form is for independent contractors, and while it is the club’s responsibility to not only properly label employees, it is also their responsibility to provide dancers with proper tax forms.
Why Do Strip Clubs Misclassify Exotic Dancers?
Why would clubs label exotic dancers as one thing, when really they’re the opposite? One word -taxes. Independently owned gentlemen’s clubs often have an owner with a basic LLC license. It’s cheaper and saves them thousands in taxes each year to label dancers as independent contractors, as employees lead to higher taxes, and more liability. Most everything about these places is set up in favor of the club owners and the dancers are actually the last to be considered.
Numbers Don’t Lie – Girls lose Money.
I looked at some bleak numbers based on how my last club operated.
If I brought in $100K in one year, and calculated everything they took out, they took $62K FROM me and I only got to keep $38K.
That doesn’t even include taxes. These clubs are set up to make someone else rich. In a multibillion dollar industry, with roughly 500,000 exotic dancers who made this industry what it is, we – the dancers – are the very last people to take money home.
We have to pay a house fee, tip out DJ/security, etc. (often with a minimum dollar amount) and many clubs deduct 20%-30% from every dance. Many leave the club with less than they came in with, or they leave owing their house and tips next time they work. I’ve had to beg to keep money I worked very hard for so I could pay a bill or buy food. It shouldn’t be that way.
It never has to be this way again.
Many groups that advocate for dancers’ rights have vocalized their desire to organize, protest or unionize. They don’t realize that there already is a federally recognized union in place, exclusively for exotic dancers; called the Exotic Dancer Guild. A few things about labor unions most don’t realize…
In order for a group to be a legitimate union and perform legal union functions, they must be recognized by the Department of Labor. Knowledge of federal and state laws is crucial, as a union organizer must write union laws and bylaws; which are based on Dept. of Labor laws concerning unions. The International Entertainment Adult Union – IEAU – is the one and only federally approved union for adult entertainers.
There are sub unions for porn actors, but the focus of this article is to let dancers and those who advocate for them that they don’t need to look any further in order to unionize; because they have a union with a board run by veterans of the dance industry. Signing up would mean that they can picket with our backing and seek free legal advice from our team of attorneys.
We are also happy to announce ALL dancers anywhere in the USA can sign up. If they’re independent contractors, a few board members have offered their services to help these dancers acquire their own LLC; which will allow them to have the same benefits as employees. Meaning tax write offs, retirement, etc. These benefits are no longer limited to employees only.
Unions Can Provide Dancers Legal Backing.
All this means that no matter what side dancers stand on, they all get the same benefits when they sign up for the union, and legal backing in cases like protests, lawsuits, etc. This is becoming a nationwide movement.
We agree with Domino Rey that dancers should no longer have to pay house fees, be forced to tip or have their money taken, in general. We worked for it, it’s ours. Until now dancers have worked to make someone else rich.
Now there’s a union to flip the script. No more letting clubs rob dancers blind. Whether employees or independent contractors, they need to sign up, get their voices heard and become part of a national movement. Dancers can contact Domino, the organizer of the LA strike through me, or follow Twitter links below. We’re here to ensure and enforce dancers’ rights as workers. Unionizing is our best chance at taking our industry back!
Have you been taken advantage of in a strip club? If so contact us today to learn your rights. You don’t have to be cheated out of your hard earned money!
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