San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution
Final Report 1996
V. Labor Policy Issues
Strip clubs and erotic performance theaters, erotic film and video production, porn magazine publishing and phone sex switchboards, commercial parties and sex clubs-- are all part of the legal sex industry in San Francisco.62
Current regulatory practices in these legal venues provide owners and management undue leverage over workers, and the number of complaints from workers grows. In one recent case, CAL OSHA investigations and Labor Commission decisions supported dancers' claims regarding working conditions. (See Appendix D.) 63 Current lack of oversight has also resulted in local theater owners declaring that workers are independent contractors, when they are, by legal definition, employees.
Although stigma and bias allow abuse in these workplaces, employees are afforded the right of legal recourse and the right to pursue labor disputes. Labor disputes in this are precedent setting, as sex workers' rights are not expressly written in the law.
The recommendations below apply to current legal sex trade venues including erotic performance clubs and theaters:64
The following recommendations apply to independent contractors and self-employed people:
I. Establish a review program to assure that sex trade venues comply with fair practices including health and safety codes according to CAL OSHA; provision for sick leave; workers' compensation and disability insurance according to the labor commission; and other labor and safety regulations.65
II. Ensure compliance with complaints filed with CAL OSHA and/or the Department of Public Health by ongoing monitoring of working conditions by the above agencies, as required by law.
III. Educate investigators from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Center, to be sensitive to sex workers' issues.
IV. Performers should only be classified by management as independent contractors when the work performed fits into guidelines for independent contractors based on labor standards. If performers are working as employees, pay hourly wages and provide benefits. Dancers/performers should not be charged stage fees in order to work and management should not receive any percentage of dancer's earned gratuities in accordance with labor codes.
V. The Bureau of Field Enforcement should be responsible for ongoing audits of erotic performance venues, in accordance with labor standards and regulations, to clarify employee status, and to ensure that dancers/performers are not charged illegal fees to work.
VI. Ensure the rights of sex trade workers to the same health insurance benefits as other self employed people, small business owners or independent contractors, the same right to police protection as other small businesses, and the right to join or form trade unions.
VII. Ensure those who provide direct contact and/or fantasy services the right to work from premises and the right to advertise.
The Fiscal Impact of The Sex Industry
A record of the economic impact of sex work on the City's economy should be documented in the City's financial records.67 By omitting the record of this work, the contribution to survival of families and communities goes unrecognized and workplace safety, civil rights, protection from violence, disability and other issues for these sectors of the population are not addressed. By removing criminal sanctions, sex work would be recognized as work and the value of this work would be counted, in keeping with Task Force recommendations. 68
Although there is currently little documented economic information about the sex industry, a sample survey was conducted by one Task Force member indicating the exponential effects these earnings have on the City's economy.69
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