Magic Tavern Becomes the Second Unionized Strip Club in the U.S.

Its strippers went on strike April 4. The club remains open.

A picket outside Magic Tavern. (Steve Gibbons / Courtesy Actors' Equity Association)

The strippers at Northwest Portland’s Magic Tavern have unanimously voted to unionize with Actors’ Equity Association, making it the second unionized strip club in the country.

“I’m over the moon,” says Daphne, a Magic Tavern stripper who helped lead the club’s unionization efforts. “There’s no feeling like hearing, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ 16 times as they counted the votes.”

After Equity certifies the election, it will begin the bargaining process on behalf of the strippers. Equity also represents Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood, Calif., which voted to unionize in May.

The Magic Tavern strippers went on strike April 4 due to “dangerous working conditions and a lack of professionalism,” according to their original petition. Grievances included insufficient club security and cameras, failure to provide strippers with contracts upon hiring, a wobbly pole, uneven stage flooring, and retaliation for bringing up workplace concerns.

Magic Tavern, at Northwest 24th Avenue and Nicolai Street, remains open with non-striking strippers onstage. When reached for comment, the club referred all media to its Aug. 17 statement on Instagram titled “UNREST.” The statement reads, in part: “A list of false accusations and defamatory statements began circulating on social media, calling itself a ‘petition’....We are now asking the parties involved in creating this false narrative about Magic Tavern to cease and desist disrupting our ability to conduct business.”

The vote count took place Sept. 7 at the National Labor Relations Board downtown. The Magic Tavern strippers are now officially recognized by the NLRB, “a huge accomplishment,” says Daphne, her stage name.

Equity was founded in 1913 and represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers.

“I’m thrilled for these workers,” says Kate Shindle, Equity’s president. “They not only knew their rights, they knew they had to stick together and never let up.”

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