Oregon Strippers Prepare to Fight For Workplace Protection Laws

Rep. Shemia Fagan has pledged her support

Nude dancers who want more rights and better workplace protections are pushing forward with bills to create new rules for Oregon strip clubs. 

 A coalition of dancers, social workers and other advocates have drafted two bills they hope will get a hearing in Salem when lawmakers reconvene in February. 

And they may have a new ally. Rep. Shemia Fagan (D-East Portland) confirmed to WW that she will support the bills, given what she's heard so far. 

One bill would require clubs to display posters on the rights of live entertainers and establish a hotline where dancers could anonymously report complaints, including wage disputes and sex trafficking. 

 Another bill would create health and safety standards for the workplace, including mandating cleanliness of the stages and poles dancers use during their performances. The bill would also allow dancers to review a club's security footage upon request if they face incidents or altercations that occur on the job. 

 â€œA lot of people have multiple jobs in this economy, and what people don’t realize is that strippers are the cooks in the kitchen, or they could be your dog groomer, your daycare provider or your hair stylist,” says Elle Stanger, a dancer whose part of the group advocating for new laws. “Whether your job is sexual in nature, or not, does not determine how well or poorly you should be treated. We’re all human beings regardless.” 

"So many interest groups have an opportunity to be heard at the loudest levels in our capitol, and for a long time it's been an unfortunate truth that this group of workers has not," adds Caleb Hayes, a lobbyist for the National Association of Social Workers.

"They haven't' had a presence in the building actively advocating on their behalf and actively organizing workers to take part in the process." This may change in the coming months; Hayes says the House Committee on Business and Labor plans to sponsor the bills.

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