|Striking Fashion Police Writers Lead Picket and Rally at E! Television
LOS ANGELES -- Striking Fashion Police writers picketed the offices of E! Entertainment on Thursday with more than 150 supporters marching alongside them in a show of solidarity for their ongoing fight for a union contract and protest against unfair wage and labor violations on the popular cable show. Wearing trademark red WGAW tee-shirts and brandishing signs that spoofed host Joan Rivers’ snarky tone, the writers demonstrated continued resolve in pushing the cable network to meet their demands for a WGA contract and benefits that most industry writers enjoy under the Guild.
“We’ve worked hard to make Fashion Police one of E!’s top-rated shows, and we don’t even get health care benefits,” said striking Fashion Police writer Bryan Cook, addressing the crowd. “It’s not like were working in a coal mine — you can’t get black lung from writing jokes, but rest assured, E! will try to find a way.”
Cook, who charged E! with violating California labor laws and profiting heavily off the show, presented a series “E-quations,” that he said were standard operating procedure on Fashion Police: for example, writers only get paid for eight hours each week although they actually work many, many more.
Striking Fashion Police writer Jackie Beat, who fundraised in order to finance his double hip replacement, thanked the show’s star, Joan Rivers, for contributing to his medical fundraising for the procedure, but pointed out he wouldn’t have needed the “begfest” he was forced to undertake if there was health insurance for Fashion Police writers.
WGAW Vice President Howard A. Rodman assailed Comcast, which owns E!, for having broken its promise to be a team player when the corporate media giant moved into Hollywood. “They lied,” Rodman told the audience, adding that they have instead shown contempt for unions. WGAW Board member Katherine Fugate pointed out that Fashion Police scribes aren’t fighting for anything more than she and other television writers already have: fair compensation, residuals, and pension and health benefits.
On strike since April 17, the Fashion Police writers were joined on the picket line by Writers Guild of America, West members and received support from Teamsters Local 99, SAG-AFTRA, and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.
The striking writers conceded that they were disappointed that Rivers – herself a WGA member – has not supported their strike for a Guild contract. Their signs and slogans echoed their frustrations: “Fashion Police Victim,” “I’d Rather Be Writing Punchlines Than Be on a Picket Line,” “What Am I, Chopped Liver?” and, finally, “Can We Talk?”
For a photo of the Fashion Police striking writers 5/23 picket & rally, click here.
Photo credit: Michael Jones
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio, and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national, and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.