We sell fantasies, not nightmares."
Cerri's missive so outraged dancer Emma Peep that she posted a copy on a message board where all the dancers could read it.
As Peep explained to the Guardian, "Davide's e-mail was against everything we stand for, and it's against the law to hire and fire based on size discrimination."
But by making the missive public, Peep set off a firestorm.
"Everyone flipped out, people were crying in the dressing room, and the male staffer got ostracized," one Lusty board member, who asked not to be identified by name, told us. "It's great what we at the Lusty think the standards of beauty are, but the reality is that we're in the adult entertainment business."
Peep claims Cerri's missive "led to others calling for the termination of women based on their size" — and in the end, to her own July 30 termination. In a supreme twist of irony, given that she filed a grievance with the union and wanted Cerri fired for his e-mail, Peep instead found herself fired "for creating a disruptive, hostile work environment" — via an unsigned letter shoved under her door.
Documents filed with the NLRB show that shortly after Peep filed her grievance, Cerri filed one of his own: he charged SEIU Local 790 with failing to represent his grievances and with treating and representing male and female employees differently.
Last week the NLRB's regional office dismissed Cerri's charges — on the grounds that the Lusty is a completely member-owned and member-operated cooperative and that as a shareholding member with the ability to affect the formulation and determination of the Lusty's policy, Cerri is a managerial employee.
"Accordingly, the Union's duty of fair representation does not extend to you," ruled NLRB acting regional director Tim Peck in a letter.
In the meantime, the union has continued to press Peep's grievances. On Aug. 4, SEIU Local 790 staff manager Dale Butler wrote Lusty Lady board members Miles Thompson, Monique Painton, and Chelsea Eis, informing them that Peep's termination was "without just cause" and "inappropriate."
Butler told the board members that the Lusty Lady's union contract provides for mediation and that the theater could be subject to $2,000 in arbitration fees plus attorneys' fees plus Peep's back wages (a triple whammy that could bankrupt the already fiscally struggling club). When the union threatened legal action, the board finally agreed to mediation.
WHO'S THE BOSS?
Meanwhile, there's a dispute about whether the union actually has a valid contract. Union representatives say they sent a final version of this year's agreement to the board, which never returned it. Butler told the Guardian that on Sept. 25, male support staffer Tony Graf called the union to say that the board had no objections to the contract — except for an antiharassment clause that shop steward Sandy Wong had proposed.
Male support staffers Cerri and Brian Falls still maintain that the union has no business at the Lusty.
"The union has been fraudulently in the Lusty Lady's business, because we're a co-op and everyone is a manager," Falls said.
As for e-mail writer Cerri, he told the Guardian that "the union is automatically out and their contract is not valid, which is great news. We were mobilizing to deunionize by collecting signatures but now won't have to go forward with that." Falls also acknowledged being involved in a decertification drive.
"Before the formation of the co-op there was a common enemy, the management, who treated the dancers and the support staff badly. But once we became a co-op, there was no reason for the union to be there," he explained.
Falls also claims that Cerri's e-mail wasn't triggered by larger dancers per se, but because there were four to five large women on the stage at the same time.
"We were losing customers and saw decreased revenues," Falls said. "The business isn't doing that great. We're on a revenue-based pay scale, so it hits everybody's paycheck.