Non-union 'Music' prod'n at issue

CHICAGO — Fighting back against his former union, actor Barry Williams filed unfair labor practices charges today with the National Labor Relations Board against Actors’ Equity Assn.

The dispute relates to Williams’ appearance in a non-Equity touring production of “The Sound of Music” that was produced on the road by Troika Entertainment.

Equity fined Williams $52,000 last January for accepting the role of Captain Von Trapp in the revived tuner, and worked hard to bring media attention to the former “Brady Bunch” star’s “scab” appearance in the non-union show, which was picketed in several markets.

Williams filed the charges with the assistance of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRWLDF), a group that provides free legal aid to people claiming to be the victim of compulsory unionism abuses.

Had already resigned

In the complaint, Williams and his representatives argue that the fine was illegal because he had already resigned from the union the previous September. When it fined Williams, Equity argued at the time that when he began working on the deal with Troika, he was still a member of the union.

“When Mr. Williams first began discussions, he was a member of Equity,” acknowledged Stefan Gleason, Right to Work vice president. “But he didn’t start work or sign a contract until after he had resigned.”

Furthermore, Gleason alleged, the fine is unlawful anyway because Williams was “not informed of his legal right not to be a member of the union,” as required by law.

“Most actors have no idea they can legally work on a union contract without having to join the union,” Gleason said. “At no time was Mr. Williams ever a voluntary member of that union.”

Stands by decision

In a prepared statement, Equity said it stood by its decision to fine Williams, subject only to its ongoing appeal process. The union plans to defend its action, it said. Equity also claimed that its obligation to inform Williams of his option to not join the union did not apply in 1974, when the actor first became a member.

“Since the Beck (Supreme Court ruling) rules in 1988, Equity has uniformly complied with those provisions,” said Equity executive director Alan Eisenberg in the statement. “We will continue to comply with all Federal and state labor laws.”

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