Lana Hall, writing in the Globe and Mail:
Lana Hall is a Toronto-based writer. She is working on a memoir about her time in the massage parlour business.
Once, when I worked in a dilapidated massage parlour bordering an expressway, a client tried to haggle me into giving him services I didn’t usually offer.
“Sorry, sweetheart, I don’t give extras,” I told him. “You know the rules.”
“I guess that would be a pretty big extra, wouldn’t it?” He smirked. “Probably a union grievance or something.”
I laughed. “Oh, we’ll have a union someday, just wait.”
It was a brief moment of banter, just me trying to keep the mood light while rebuffing his advances – a delicate balance my livelihood depended on. Today, we’re one step closer to sex-worker unions being less of a joke and more of a reality.
Last month, Canada’s oldest sex-worker organization became the first of its kind to unionize under the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Right now, the union only represents the staff members at Maggie’s, many of whom are current sex workers, but it’s still a watershed moment, one I hope will encourage other organizational efforts among sex-work communities across the country.
Most people in my life today know me as a professional writer and a business owner. But six years ago, I was none of those things. I was working in Toronto’s “exotic massage parlour” business, an industry shrouded in secrecy with no labour protection to speak of.
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