Writers for E!'s "Fashion Police" have gone on strike effective Wednesday.
Over the past couple weeks, the writers have expressed a desire to organize and join the Writers Guild of America West. They have filed $1.5 million in wage and hour claims with the California Division of Labor Standard Enforcement (DLSE) against the network and show host Joan Rivers' production company, Rugby productions. They are seeking payment for unpaid regular and overtime hours worked.
Under the advisement of the WGA, the writers have agreed not to work on the show. Also, as a guild-sanctioned strike, members of the WGA West and WGA East are not allowed to work on the show, because it is not one of its signatory companies.
"This is very simple," "Fashion Police" writer Ned Rice said in a statement. "We have earned the right to be a Guild show, we deserve to be a Guild show, and we want to be a Guild show. The ball is clearly in E! and Rugby's court right now and we're ready to go back to work on 'Fashion Police' just as soon as they sign a WGA contract."
"'Fashion Police' is one of the network's top-rated shows. Its writers are an integral part of that success," said WGAW President Chris Keyser and WGAE President Michael Winship in a joint statement. "To deny them the basic guarantees that are the right of all writers is not only unjust, it is also a counterproductive business practice. All WGA members are now prohibited from working on 'Fashion Police.' This order will remain in effect until E! and Rugby do what is right."
The Guild sent the following letter to its membership on Wednesday.
Dear WGAW and WGAE members,
Writers on E! Network's comedy-variety show, Fashion Police, walked off their jobs today to gain Writers Guild coverage and to protest the company's unfair labor practices. Their strike is recognized and supported by the WGAW and the WGAE. As per Working Rule 8, Guild members are prohibited from writing for the show.
Although Fashion Police is one of E!'s highest-rated shows, its writers lack health and pension benefits, residuals, and industry-standard compensation. When the writers began to organize earlier this year they were met with threats and delaying tactics.
The writers notified the company they are finished writing until they are covered by a Guild agreement and compensated appropriately. There are two possible endings to this conflict. Either E! will agree to cover the writers under a Guild contract, or it will no longer benefit from the writing talents of the current staff of Guild members.
Please support the Fashion Police writers and spread the word to non-members who might be approached to write for the show. If the stand-up and comedy-variety writing communities support this strike, the show cannot go on, at least with its current format and quality. Strongly encourage non-members to respect the strike and support these writers, who are taking a stand against substandard wages and conditions. Any non-Guild writer who chooses to undercut this strike by taking a striker's job could jeopardize future Writers Guild membership.
The Fashion Police writers are united, strong, and determined. We stand with them.
Chris, Howard, Carl, David
Michael, Jeremy, Bob, Lowell
TheWrap is awaiting comment from E!.