United Mine Workers President Sam Church Jr. got into a punching match yesterday with another union official outside UMW headquarters here.

The spectacle, with the men flailing at one another occurred before an after-lunch crowd, including reporter Fred Barbash of The Washington Post.

Barbash said he was passing UMW headquarters about 2:10 p.m. when he saw "two burly men in white shirts, no ties, no jackets, thick beards, shouting at each other."

He said he heard a third man say to the two: "Come on, fellas, this isn't going to settle anything." Barbash said the two men were about to go inside the UMW building when "one took a swing at the other."

The two men "then became a tangle of flying fists," he said. "It looked like a total of 25 or 30 punches were thrown in the course of the 60-second brawl, with the two of them, at one point, moving out into 15th Street."

UMW sources later confirmed that the combatants were Church and UMW safety director Everett Acord, one of about 40 union employes -- including Church's wife, Patti -- scheduled to be laid off April 15, largely because of economic problems stemming from the union's 13-day-old strike against the Bituminous Coal Operators Association.

Neither Acord nor Church was available for comment yesterday.

A union source said Church and Acord had been "having a 'discussion,' which they continued inside. This source said the men eventually "shook hands and parted friends."

Another UMW source said Church and Accord "were just funning, demonstrating the difference between a boxer and a slugger." The source didn't say who was playing what role.

The union's 39-member bargaining council is scheduled to return here Friday.