The stoppage started April 17 after writers filed complaints with the state of California alleging that E! and show host Joan Rivers’ Rugby Prods., which jointly employ the scribes, had not paid $1.5 million in wages and overtime. The WGA, which assisted in the filing of the claims, is sanctioning the strike and has told the 12,000 members not to work on the show until the matter is settled.
Kolb responded Wednesday by blaming the WGA for the strike and asserting that the network wants to have an election administered by the National Labor Relations Board before it negotiates. The writers said last month that the demand for an election was “a well-known stalling tactic.”
“We require an NLRB administered election prior to collective bargaining because it is a fair and important part of the process,” Kolb said. “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.”
The WGA had no immediate response.
Kolb also insisted that the network will not negotiate a deal without an NLRB election.
“Please reconsider striking over something as democratic as an election,” she said. “There will be no resolution to this matter without one.”
Kolb also said Rivers remains “emphatically supportive” of the writers and noted that her company does not produce “Fashion Police” nor set the compensation.
“The personal attacks on Joan have been grossly unfair and inaccurate as the responsibility of the show lies on my shoulders, not hers,” she added.