FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 25, 9PM
Sarah Lyons, [email protected], 312-385-0603
Workers of Berlin Nightclub Launch Boycott
Berlin workers ask community not to patronize the famed Chicago venue until owners agree to a fair contract
CHICAGO – Today, workers of the Berlin Nightclub announced a boycott and asked the community not to patronize the venue. Berlin Nightclub workers organized with UNITE HERE Local 1 in April 2023 and are pushing for their first contract. During the six months at the bargaining table, the owners of Berlin have rejected the union’s proposal for health insurance and wage increases. Currently, most staff who work as bartenders, barbacks, security, door, coat check, stage managers, audio/visual, social media, and programming coordinator make minimum wage and none have any health care coverage through their employment at Berlin.
“We are we are launching a boycott of Berlin Nightclub because queer and trans workers are worth more than minimum wage. I want to thank all the performers, DJ’s, hosts, and producers who are courageously standing in solidarity with us and respecting the boycott by canceling their shows. This is what it means to be a part of the queer community in Chicago,” said Jolene Saint, who has worked as a bartender at Berlin Nightclub for six years.
In August, Berlin workers walked out on strike for two days. Performers cancelled their shows in solidarity during the strike. The boycott launch followed the publication last month of an open letter from the Chicago Drag Community to the owners of Berlin Nightclub expressing support for the Berlin workers’ organizing efforts and expressing support for the Berlin workers’ organizing efforts and pledging to honor any strike or boycott.
“Berlin has always often been a sanctuary for trans people in Chicago, who do not feel safe in many other places. The crowd reflects that, the performers reflect that, and the programming reflects that. All of that is due to the hard work of the workers, many of whom are transgender themselves, all of whom are queer, and all of whom are being mistreated and underpaid. I, along with many other performers, proudly endorse the boycott of Berlin Nightclub,” said Irregular Girl who has performed at Berlin for seven years and co-hosts a monthly lesbian night called “Strapped,” one of Berlin nightclub’s most popular shows.
The host, DJ, and all performers who were scheduled to perform at tonight’s “Studs and Spikes” show at Berlin Nightclub have cancelled their appearances in honor of the boycott. Other performers with shows scheduled at Berlin later this week have also announced cancellations. For updates on show cancellations, follow UNITE HERE Local 1 on Twitter and Instagram.
Berlin Nightclub is owned by Jim Schuman and Jo Webster who bought the venue in 1995. The Berlin Nightclub has been in operation on the Northside of Chicago since 1983.