San Diego exotic dancers protest: “My choice, not yours! Strip my clothes, not my rights!"

Exotic dancers in San Diego

Exotic dancers throughout San Diego are coming together to protest a law that they say impedes their right to work as independent contractors, resulting in a significant loss of money and flexible scheduling.

Dozens of dancers organized a demonstration on Thursday outside of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez's office to call an end to Assembly Bill 5, a law which requires exotic dancers to work as company employees, a shift from the standard freelancing exotic dancers are accustomed to.

“My choice, not yours! Strip my clothes, not my rights,” chanted protestors.

By being forced to work as company employees, exotic dancers risk losing the flexibility of working on their own time. The law could also have damaging effects on their ability to work for various locations at once.

Assembly Bill 5, however, was not drafted to affect the work conditions of exotic dancers. Assemblywoman Gonzalez argues that the bill is about protecting the rights of workers who are misclassified as independent contractors so companies can avoid providing them benefits, a rampant issue in many creative industries.

"It's really important for the state that the people aren't misclassified, because when they are misclassified as independent contractors, the employer is not paying social security. The employer is not paying unemployment insurance. The employer is not paying into workers compensation. They're not providing healthcare, paid sick days, paid family leave,” she said.

While government regulations preventing the exploitation of independent contractors is necessary, it's clear that a certain delineation must be set between workers that benefit and those that don't. For now, exotic dancers are making it loud and clear that they are receiving the short end of the stick.