As a progressive city, Minneapolis needs to spearhead better standards for all workers. We can easily achieve this in at least one field by 2020 with the proposed changes to the Adult Entertainment ordinance. This ordinance introduces much needed health and safety regulations in strip clubs.

Below is the actual language of the purpose of the ordinance:

“The Issue: Multiple studies and investigations have found examples of unsafe, unsanitary and exploitative conditions in Minneapolis adult entertainment businesses, and have identified problems faced by entertainers… Guiding Principles: Entertainers in Minneapolis are engaged in legal work, and deserve workplaces that protect their safety and dignity, and allow them to make a living without exploitation, discrimination or abuse.  We have crafted these ordinance proposals in cooperation with entertainers.”

As an entertainer, I find it important to be treated with respect and dignity. The ordinance encourages respect and dignity for workers in this industry.

The overview of the ordinance available on Council Member Cam Gordon’s website has three sections to its proposed licensing standards: Protections for Entertainers, General Security, and Physical Space. Most of it is agreeable to me as a performer, but I have found that clarification is needed within each section. Additionally, there are places where the ordinance could go further in securing entertainers’ rights and safety.

In Protections for Entertainers, both the overview and proposal use the term “employees”, which can be unclear or misleading. All Minneapolis adult entertainment venues (excluding one) hire entertainers as independent contractors, not employees. Would each venue now give the option of working as a contractor or an employee? If so, what would those differences look like? As it currently stands, most contractors in the adult entertainment industry are illegally obligated to perform as if they are employees, but without the protections of federal and state labor laws. For this reason, the proposed prohibition on managers taking tips from dancers is great!

The proposed ordinance would require businesses to provide a copy of their contract to entertainers upon signing. I think this  could be strengthened. Performers should be given a copy of the contract prior to their audition. Also, any dancer who auditions should be given a stipend of $50 (in addition to any tips made) and required to stay no more than two hours, unless given a full shift .  

In the General Security section, it states that venues must post rules of conduct.  It should elaborate that they need to be posted in the restrooms, at the bar, at the racks (stages), and in the VIP areas. The rules should be laminated and mounted, so they cannot be tampered with easily.

In addition to the suggested monitoring of the club through security cameras, placing a panic button near the VIP areas to buzz the staff for help would increase security. It could also be used for bottle service too; one ring for service, two or more in rapid sequence for help. Footage from security cameras should be made available to licensing officials  and entertainers upon request.

The Physical Space section has great language specifying that staff and not entertainers are required to clean up and purchase cleaning supplies when they need to be replaced. Having a staff member sanitize the poles and booths after each performer would be so helpful. Few patrons find it entertaining to watch performers cleaning, and it would be nice to be able to start a routine when the music begins rather than spend the first minute cleaning the stage.

All the other requirements are straightforward. Facilities should meet OSHA standards. Ceilings and floors need to be secure for patrons, staff, and entertainers.

As for the City Council’s process, the overview should have the link to the draft ordinance on it. Finding the proposal itself is a bit difficult: it requires going to a site that lacks a clear table of contents and clicking multiple links to find the full document. The overview also does not state a date when input from the public is due.

All workers deserve dignity. Organizing around this ordinance is bringing the Minneapolis community together, sex workers and non-sex workers. This is what we need to get back to a thriving infrastructure. So please talk to your neighbors and look at the ordinance proposals that are in play so you can help shape your future.

I support this ordinance because we have the power to change our workplaces if we stand together.

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