2ND UPDATE 5 PM: The striking Fashion Police writers just issued a statement in response to E!’s memo earlier today:

The election the Company is calling for is a well-known stalling tactic. By ignoring for weeks our repeated requests for negotiation of a fair deal, E! has forced us to vote with our feet. The best way our fellow Guild member Joan Rivers can show us her support is by putting down her pen until a WGA contract is in place.

UPDATE 1:20 PM: E! is reacting to this morning’s move by the writers on the cable network’s popular series Fashion Police to walk off the job in a quest for WGA representation. In an internal memo to E! staff, the network’s president Suzanne Kolb said E! brass are “disappointed” by the action and ready to sit down immediately for negotiations with WGA representatives. (full memo below). Meanwhile, Fashion Police co-host Joan Rivers, whose company co-produces the series with E!, “has gone on record repeatedly that she supports the Fashion Police writers and wants a fair agreement for them,” E! said.

I want to make sure you are aware of a work action taking place on Fashion Police. We are disappointed that the WGA has called a strike and some of the Fashion Police writers have chosen to vacate their positions.  It’s unfortunate given that we have taken every action to expedite an election for these writers to decide if they wish to have a bargaining representative, which is the NLRB process that E! and the Guild followed for two other shows now under WGA agreements.  In fact, if the WGA had taken the same path as they did with The Soup and Chelsea Lately, we would be well into negotiations toward a deal at this time. We are hopeful the Fashion Police writers will choose to follow the same process and if the writers vote for Guild representation, we are prepared to sit down immediately with WGA representatives in the hopes of reaching a fair agreement.  —  Suzanne Kolb

PREVIOUS 8:20 AM: A total of 12 writers on the E! reality series Fashion Police had filed complaints with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement earlier this month seeking payment for unpaid regular and overtime hours totaling $1.5 million. Now the WGA has sent out a letter to members saying the staff is officially on strike against the network and the show’s producer, Joan Rivers’ Rugby Productions, which jointly employ the writers. The aim is to make Fashion Police a guild show. “This is very simple,” Fashion Police writer Ned Rice said in a statement announcing the action. “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.” The WGA West and WGA East are saying members of both guilds are “prohibited from writing for the show under Working Rule 8, which prohibits members from working for non-signatory companies. The guilds also urged non-members not to take jobs on the show while the work stoppage is underway.” Here’s the guilds’ letter:

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.

In solidarity,

Chris, Howard, Carl, David

Michael, Jeremy, Bob, Lowell