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NLRB Reopens Williams' Non-Union Tour Case

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The National Labor Relations Board has reopened its investigation involving Actors' Equity Associa-tion's fining of actor Barry Williams for starring in a non-union tour of "The Sound of Music."

The former child star of "The Brady Bunch" severed his relationship with Equity last year to headline the tour. The union fined Williams $30,000 and called for an apology for his actions. Williams last year challenged the punishment before the NLRB, which ruled in favor of Equity.

Then, last week, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation issued a release saying that NLRB General Counsel Arthur Rosenfeld had remanded the case back to the New York regional office "because it dismissed Williams' June 2001 charges without conducting an adequate investigation." The foundation charged that New York NLRB investigators "had refused to interview key witnesses and collect key evidence."

Daniel Cronin, a press spokesman for the foundation, told Back Stage at press time that the key witnesses were Williams' former attorney Michael Elkin and the head of Troika Entertainment, Nick Howey. Troika produced the non-union tour.

"They would have provided testimony as to when Barry entered the contract, and whether it was before or after he was an AEA member," Cronin said, adding that Williams "had resigned from Equity and was out of Equity before he did the production. They could have and will substantiate Barry's claim."

Cronin said it was his understanding that, in remanding the case back to New York, the NLRB's Rosenfeld had not specifically instructed the local investigators to interview Elkin and Howey. If they do not interview them, then the foundation will appeal the case before Rosenfeld in Washington, D.C., Cronin said.

Equity fined Williams in January 2001 for "entering into a contract or letter of intent to play the part of Captain Von Trapp...without permission from the Association." The union prohibits its members from working without an Equity contract in non-Equity shows. The controversial tour played for almost 40 weeks, and was the object of numerous union protests across the United States.

An Equity spokesperson said that the union had no response at press time to the NLRB's reopening of the case.

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