Fairfax, Virginia 22038 — That's how Robert Snyder and other Pennsylvania coal miners firmly reacted when they learned their union, the United Mine Workers of America, was going to pick their pockets for an annual political contribution by requiring their employers to take the money out of their paychecks.
The money was slated for COMPAC, the UMW's political action fund, where the union's top officials would be free to spend it on their favorite political candidates and causes.
As president of UMW Local 1510, Robert snyder had supported his union's collective bargaining efforts in the coal mines. But, he said, "I feel there is no place in a union for forced politics." And he knew most of his fellow miners felt the same way.
Under Snyder's leadership, petitions were circulated and sent to the coal companies and union headquarters, protesting the involuntary political assessments and demanding it be stopped. But no one, the miners discovered, was listening. The com panies continued to deduct the union political fee and pay it into the UMW's political fund.
Fortunately, Robert Snyder saw an ad of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which said union officials could not lawfully collect of spend compulsory dues for political purposes. He wrote the Foundation, seeking legal aid.
With the help of Foundation attorneys, Snyder and five of his fellow workers filed a compliant with the Federal Election Commission in Washington. They charged the UMW political assessment violated Federal election law because it automatically deducted political contributions from their pay without their consent.
The miners are confident of ultimate victory. They know that in July 1978, the Foundation fought and won the same battle for Paul and Lore Chamberlain, two Michigan school teachers who objected to a similar "forced politics" payroll deduction scheme operated by the giant National Education Association union.
Robert Snyder and the Chamberlains were fortunate. They found expert legal help -- vital whenyou're up against powerful union hierarchies, reluctant government agencies and a slow-moving court system.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is helping everyone it can -- currently in more than 100 cases involving illegal union political spending, academic and political freedom, protection from union violence, and other basic employee rights.
If you'd like to help workers like Robert Snyder, we'd like to hear from you.