Writers on the popular television show Fashion Police have announced that they are on strike until the show agrees to sign a contract with the Writers Guild of America, the union that represents many television writers. The employees say that the show is ignoring relevant wage and hour laws which would entitle them to overtime pay and benefits.
The writers filed a complaint with their state's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, saying that when they work long hours they not only are not paid overtime but that the extra time is not compensated at all.
The Writers Guild has issued a statement to their other members asking that they not work for the show during the strike. The striking writers have taken to the web to appeal to their non-unionized peers, asking that they not work for the show until conditions improve. Undermining the strike, they argue, will allow this type of bad treatment to continue and perpetuate depressed pay and poor conditions for writers across the industry.
In this strike as in other labor disputes between employees and employers, it is crucial that employees know their rights under the law. While private-sector employees all have the right to organize and seek better conditions under federal employment laws, organizing alone may be insufficient if the demands are not supported by labor regulations.
In this case, the workers are correct that as hourly, non-exempt employees, they are entitled to overtime pay for any time they work beyond 40 hours in a week.
Source: In These Times, "'Fashion Police' Accused of Wage Theft," Sarah Jaffe, April 19, 2013.