Raiderette LOW PAY Lawsuit – MY THOUGHTS!!!

Yes, I was an Oakland Raiderette…and am still a proud alumni! So news of a lawsuit by a current – on her way out former Raiderette from the most recent season has hit the media, and I couldn’t resist giving my 2 cents, okay it’s more like a lot of SENSE!! And this all comes on the heels of a new petition on behalf of ALL NFL Cheerleaders (completely unrelated) to get MORE PAY!

Check these links for background:

Busted Coverage – Cheerleader Sues Raiders for Withholding Pay & Not Paying Minimum Wage **this article contains a copy of the actual lawsuit paperwork filed**
ESPN – Cheerleader Files Suit Against Raiders
Pay Petition – for all NFL Teams Cheerleaders

But seriously, this is sparking so much debate among Raiderette Alumni and people in general, that I just had to put my thoughts down and share…so here goes…

YES…being a PRO TEAM Dancer/Cheerleader is a low paying job…I’ve been on 3 teams in the NBA and NFL. Do I believe the compensation should be more, yes, that would be nice to be paid for my time and talent, but here’s the reality (from my dancing days):

  • Cheerleaders (Raiders) are paid a per game stipend, practice is not paid and certain community/charity events may also be non paid. There are other paid appearance opportunities and you are always told the pay, location and summary of all events before you sign up. Other pro teams do receive a minimum wage for practice. You also receive tickets for the game as part of the compensation.
  • Team members sign a contract acknowledging and agreeing to the terms of pay, attendance, expectations (hair, makeup, nails, citizenship, etc…), duties, hours, and it is often a requirement for those selected to hold some type of job or be a student outside of the team.
  • Members are required to maintain and meet fitness/appearance requirements, all of which are discussed and agreed to…gym membership and stylist discounts are also given by sponsors. And while some of the ladies may take that as required weekly manicures or regular haircuts and color, those are optional expenses the ladies incur at their own discretion…again they AGREED to this.
  • Travel to appearances may sometimes be out of area, but if you sign up to drive 90 miles, I’m saying, don’t complain about it.
  • Fines are incurred when you are late for practice, games, events or if you forget required equipment, attire, etc… I have no issue with this, money is the best motivator to get people to stay on top of their game.

So my thing is, at auditions… candidates are WELL AWARE of what it takes to make the team and what the job entails, if selected among the HUNDREDS, sometimes THOUSANDS of hopefuls. I think the general public assumes it is a full time job and doesn’t realize the reality of what goes on behind the glamour – hours of practice, appearances and prep, but truth be told, after all the hard work, hours of sweat, all the tears shed, dedication and miles driven, what you take home doesn’t even cover gas costs! However, the majority (if not all) of the ladies in the pro ranks aren’t doing it “for the money.” What this job offers are priceless memories and friendships, unique experiences and once in a lifetime opportunities. As a pro team cheerleader I was able to network and meet countless top level executives from a wide range of industries, work alongside community leaders and influencers, travel and represent teams in the most elite sports leagues and given the platform to be part of game day entertainment in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans!

Honestly, this gets me worked up because I am protective of the “sisterhood.” I do see the point of being paid more and it would be well-deserved, but the reality is that being a Raiderette or part of any pro team is a privilege and honor, that is priceless!! IF this suit is successful, I think a few things could happen. It may be possible that teams do away with cheerleaders altogether or make it a volunteer job with NO stipend. However, since the cheerleaders are vital to branding and bring in millions of dollars for the team, maybe they shrink the squads down to only a dozen or less, to make them full-time staff.  But, let’s be honest, the hundreds of women that try out would do it for free, and these days the spots are so coveted that they enlist the coaching of people like me, through Going Pro Entertainment, to give them advice and pointers on how to make a team!

It will be interesting to see what happens. I worked full time outside of my position as a pro team cheerleader/dancer, with each team I was lucky enough to be a member of…and I would do it all over again for the same “low” pay.

6 Replies to “Raiderette LOW PAY Lawsuit – MY THOUGHTS!!!”

  1. I work as a stagehand at the Stadium and am well aware of what the ladies go through on Sunday’s . i think they should be paid more or at the very least compensated for travel time and public appearence . i also appreciate your Honesty and respect the fact that you would do it all over again. but since the NFL is a Billion plus industry it seems that since the cheerleaders are promoting there product the least they could do it offer up a nice bonus at the end of the season.. good luck on this one …

  2. I respect her for speaking up, and the “pay” is low, but it’s not a full time position you can expect to live off of…

  3. I think we can all agree the pay could be more, it clearly isn’t in line with how much players get paid or a reflection of how rich the NFL is or how much the Cheerleaders can bring into the organization….but all the ladies KNOW what they are signing up for!

  4. Thank you sister, well said. Also a proud former Raiderette here and loyal Raiders fan. I too disagree with the lawsuit for the same reasons you mentioned. I also want to point out that it’s not that many of us disagree with the fact that the pay is low. The issue is that her actions are just a negative way to go about it with serious, potential consequences to the Raiderettes. NFL cheerleaders have already started a petition to get word out of their desired pay changes. If the teams opt to do nothing then women can make their own decision to tryout again for the same pay. If she was really upset about her work conditions she could’ve opted to raise this issue earlier, say, before she signed the contract or mid-season when she realized the experience wasn’t enough for her. It seems very opportunistic to bring this forward now, get the spot-light on her, when the petition just started circulating and receiving media attention. I feel that she is trying to be the poster-child/spokeswoman none of us asked for.

  5. Yes…now it sort of looks like this is just an issue with the Raiders, but the truth, terms are in line with most other teams. I’m not sure the technical “job classification,” but at the end of the day, if being a Raiderette isn’t conducive to your finances and you need to seek better paying employment to supplement income, it is your CHOICE!

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