Striking 'Fashion Police' Writers Picket E! Headquarters (Updated)
The real police were not needed when the fake fashion ones -- or at least their writing staff -- picketed on Thursday.
Writers from E! TV's "Fashion Police" led an hour-long picket and rally at the channel's mid-Wilshire headquarters. The peaceful demonstration drew about 200 supporters and no one from the E! network.
Nine of the 12 Los Angeles-based writers for "Fashion Police" have been on strike since April 17, protesting what they see as E!'s unfair labor practices and violations of California wage and hour law. Writers on the highly rated show, who lack health care and pension benefits, are demanding to be covered by a Writer's Guild of America West contract.
The network is insisting that a National Labor Relations Board election be held first, which the writers call a stall tactic.
On Wednesday, E! had the following in a statement: "Requiring an NLRB administered election is a fair and important part of the process. E! went so far as to take the unprecedented step of filing the petition with the NLRB ourselves a couple months ago to accelerate the process on the 'Fashion Police' writers' behalf. If the writers had participated we could have been well into negotiations if not done by now."
Bryan Cook, a writer for "Fashion Police" and employee of E! since last August, said that the main beef stems from the fact that the writers are only paid for eight hours per week, regardless of how long they actually worked producing the hour-long show. Cook estimates that on average, the writers worked 32 hours a week. They worked even longer days and nights when churning out 90-minute episodes during awards season.
Cook described E!'s strategy as "basically bullying writers into thinking they're lucky to even have a job and paying them as little as they possibly can."
Cook told TheWrap that there were several nights during the Oscar season where the staff worked from 3 p.m. until 6 or 7 a.m. the following morning. He explained that because the writers typically work from home, E! "can say whatever they want and claim that's how long it took us [to produce the material.]"
As far as Cook knows, the "scabs" -- which includes the three non-striking staff writers -- writing the show now are receiving the same $620 per week that the picketing staff writers were being paid.