Strippers get bill of rights in US state

Strippers in Washington state have won protections with a bill of rights (MENAHEM KAHANA)
Strippers in Washington state have won protections with a bill of rights (MENAHEM KAHANA)

Strippers in the US state of Washington have won workplace protections after the governor signed a bill of rights putting them on the same legal footing as people in any other job.

The legislation, signed into law on Monday by Governor Jay Inslee, is some of the most far-reaching in the country, and sets standards for safety and pay.

"Strippers are workers, and they should be given the same rights and protections as any other labor force," said Washington state Senator Rebecca Saldana, who sponsored the bill.

"If they are employed at a legal establishment in Washington, they deserve the safeguards that every worker is entitled to, including protection from exploitation, trafficking, and abuse."

The law mandates the provision of panic buttons in areas where dancers might be alone with customers, and requires clubs to have specially trained staff on hand to deal with security issues.

It also sets out requirements for clear contracts that would limit the amount a club could charge a stripper -- many of whom are independent contractors.

The law also moves to allow alcohol to be served in clubs, adding a possibly significant stream of revenue that will help clubs fund the measures.

The legislation was crafted with input from Strippers Are Workers, a campaign group that represents sex workers.

"For five years we have organized and built consensus with dancers to develop a bill that will address issues in the Washington adult entertainment industry and get dancers more workers' rights and protections," the group said ahead of the signing of the bill.

The group said Washington was unusual for not allowing the sale of alcohol in strip clubs.

"Alcohol service has been found, by strippers and scientific research, to actually make clubs safer and more equitable," it said. "Dancers deserve to do their work equitably, safely, and without stigmatization."

Strippers in new Zealand marched on parliament in January demanding better employment rights and reforms to the adult industry.

And strippers at a bar in Los Angeles voted last year to unionize in a bid to better protect themselves for what they say is exploitative practices.