E! president Suzanne Kolb wants the writers who went on strike in early April against the Joan Rivers-hosted Fashion Police to know that the WGA West is their real enemy not the network. “The WGA has convinced you that a strike is necessary in order to gain a union contract. But history at E! has shown that not to be true. You are actually losing paychecks because of the guild’s dislike of elections,” she wrote in a letter to the striking scribes that was released today. The writers have said that because a majority of them already want to be represented by the WGA, no election is required. The WGA West assisted the scribes in their complaint last month to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. In her letter today, Kolb also made a point of deflecting any blame for the situation from WGA member Rivers, whose production company the writers added on April 10 to their complaint to the state. “Joan Rivers has been and remains emphatically supportive of you,” she wrote. “The responsibility of the show lies on my shoulders, not hers,” Kolb added. The first public remarks from Kolb on the matter didn’t seem to get to her intended audience in a timely fashion. Two writers from the show tell me that they haven’t received a copy of the letter this morning. One writer says he got the letter after it was released to the media. An E! spokesperson says the letter was sent out via email earlier today. Seeking about $1.5 million in back wages and penalties from the non-union show, the Fashion Police writers have a sold out benefit planned for tonight at LA’s Laugh Factory comedy club. But if you want a laugh now, read the full letter from Kolb here:
Let me begin by thanking you for the work you have done for Fashion Police, and for your time in reading this letter. My purpose in writing is to share with you the network’s position, as well as correct some of the false information that surrounds this issue, and most importantly reemphasize the resolution that can bring us all to the negotiating table.
First, Joan Rivers has been and remains emphatically supportive of you. And, despite what has been reported to the contrary, her company does not produce Fashion Police nor set the compensation of E! Networks Productions’ writers. The personal attacks on Joan have been grossly unfair and inaccurate as the responsibility of the show lies on my shoulders, not hers.
Additionally, I want to make it clear that E! is not anti-WGA. We have other WGA shows, and we will negotiate with the guild should you formally elect them as your representative. We require an NLRB administered election prior to collective bargaining because it is a fair and important part of the process. Although the WGA claims to have a practice of not participating in NLRB elections, they in fact participated in them for Chelsea Lately and The Soup, both of which now have guild deals. The WGA has convinced you that a strike is necessary in order to gain a union contract. But history at E! has shown that not to be true. You are actually losing paychecks because of the guild’s dislike of elections.
This leads me to ask you, why strike over an election if you believe the vote will be in favor of representation? Please reconsider striking over something as democratic as an election. There will be no resolution to this matter without one.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.