STRIPPERS GET GROUND-BREAKING LABOR PACT.
With a new labor contract in hand, nude dancers at the Lusty Lady strip club will get one sick day and time-and-one-tenth pay on New Year's Eve - their only recognized holiday.
Not so hot, as benefits go.
But the ground-breaking contract could have ramifications for the legal sex industry nationwide, dancers and their advocates said Friday.
``There's a very, very large percentage of the sex industry that is legal and certainly ready to be organized,'' said Carol Leigh of the Sex Workers Caucus, a San Francisco-based lobbying group. ``I'm sure this is going to be an inspiration.''
Lusty Lady union organizers, including the Service Employees International Union and the Exotic Dancer's Alliance, have received queries from women in Oregon, Washington, New York, Florida and several other states.
``We've gotten calls, letters and e-mails from women all across the country,'' said Johanna Breyer, a former dancer and an Exotic Dancer's Alliance spokeswoman. Many of the queries have resulted from the group's Web page (www.bayswan.org).
Breyer, now a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, co-founded the alliance in 1992 to combat mistreatment at another San Francisco strip club, the Market Street Cinema. About 60 women have filed complaints over wages and hours with the state Labor Commission.
One club, Mitchell Brothers Theatre, is facing a class-action lawsuit from 480 women who claim the owners cheated them out of money, Breyer said.
Calls from the Associated Press to managers at the Lusty Lady, Market Street Cinema and Mitchell Brothers Theatre were not returned.
For their part, dancers say management often forces them to hand over half their income or meet cash quotas.
``A lot of women are told they have to make $150 to $200 in four hours,'' said one San Francisco dancer who goes by the stage name Vicki. ``They'll be running out to the cash machine just so they can meet the quota.''
To make the money, some women perform sexual favors in back rooms provided by management, she said.
Other dancers told stories of being forced to come to work when they are sick or losing half their pay if they can't find someone to work for them.
``Dancers aren't treated like princesses. They're treated like kitchen help,'' said Jezibel Scott, a Lusty Lady dancer and union member.
Now, at least, they will be better paid.
In addition to a sick day and one holiday, Scott and her 90 co-workers, including janitors, bouncers and cashiers, will receive pay increases that will bring them to an average $25 hourly salary by the end of the year.
The contract, released Thursday, also requires Lusty Lady managers to remove one-way mirrors, which strippers say let clients take photographs and videos.
On a larger scale, Scott said she hopes that the new contract will help change the public's image of dancers.
``I hope it shows them that we aren't a bunch of giggling sorority girls or hopeless drug addicts,'' Scott said, ``but that we are intelligent women who are doing a very hard job and know how to fight for our rights.''