After consulting with our community over the course of a series of projects which included;
- community economic development through cooperative business models
- establishing of Occupational Health and Safety Standards through development of union/ industry association for all aspects of work within the sex industry.
Our cooperative development projects included the collective desire to establish;
- a cooperative consulting firm – so that when paid opportunities arise to present at conferences, round tables or panel discussions, a more diverse group of sex workers could benefit. Too often organizations and others choose and the same few, token community representatives or representation via “advisory board” in place of true community engagement. This idea is still critical as we move forward and we continue to work to ensure as many sex workers as possible have a chance to bring their voices to the table.
- a cooperative brothel – including an show lounge ( strippers) / space for drag performance, safe work site, kitchen/ food service and housing for elderly sex workers. Our intention was to also serve alcohol so we could generate funds and more jobs for our community.
- a credit union – the most recent addition to the cooperative development activities includes a bank. Laws in the US are impacting the ability of sex workers all over the planet to pay for advertising and save money without fear of seizure. Many groups have community based credit unions including the Vancouver Police. Pension plans, insurance and financial advice… all tailored to the needs of our community. A dream to be sure!
Our Union and Industry Association development projects included recommendations for;
- a trade association and a branding or certification process to support safer work conditions over all and stabilize the existing safer indoor venues that exist now.
- development of occupational health and safety training as a way to give people entering and in the sex industry the tools to make safe decisions about their work.
- Develop a community based complaints process to reduce the need for police or other intervention.
It was agreed that all stake holders including business owners and consumers should be engaged to contribute to the design of the future of our industry.
Since development of these ideas, we applied for funding to develop the cooperative “Safe Work Site”. We tried twice, in a process which takes around 9 months to complete, through the “Innovative Cooperatives Development Fund”. We were told both times, we were not seen as a priority for the fund and were denied funding.
We had more success moving the establishment of OHS training materials forward. Funded through Vancouver Coastal Health, we engaged with the community to try to gather as much knowledge and experience as we could to compile into a detailed health and safety manual known as Trade Secrets Guide.
Now that we have this resource we have begun work on the second component of the union development project recommendations. We are working to develop a system of accreditation in order to;
- establish a standard in labour practices for our industry
- create a foundation for a “future” sex industry managed complaints process.
The Certified program is the first attempt at these ideas. We hope you will consider taking part in and/ or providing feedback about this new process.
We know that there maybe unforeseen barriers or other issues we couldn’t predict so we are counting on you to share your questions, concerns and ideas with us to make it the best it can be.