Comedian, guild have clashed over non-union work
The Writers Guild of America East has set an Oct. 14 date for its trial board to examine charges filed against Joan Rivers — which could lead to Rivers becoming the first member ever expelled from the WGA East.
Rivers, a lifetime member of the WGA East,responded last month to the charge by saying, “This is such a bunch of bullshit.”
Rivers faces a hearing at WGA East headquarters in New York before a three-person board over allegations she violated the union’s rules by writing and by performing showrunner duties for the E! Network show, which is not under WGA jurisdiction. Guild members are not allowed to work on non-union shows.
The WGA East constitution states that violators of guild rules can be “suspended, declared not in good standing, expelled from membership in the Guild, be asked to resign, be censured, fined or otherwise disciplined or any combination of the foregoing.”
The trial board’s finding will be sent to the WGA East Council, which can affirm or overturn the ruling. A member can appeal that decision directly to the membership.
The writers have filed complaints with the state of California alleging that E! and 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.
E! has said repeatedly that it will not grant the writers union recognition without an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. The WGA has responded by asserting that the requirement of an NLRB election is a stalling tactic.