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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KSDK) - It's a battle between union workers and two St. Louis-based energy companies. The issue: healthcare.

The United Mine Workers of America has been running commercials on NewsChannel 5 to bring the issue to light.

They feature former employees of Peabody Energy and Arch Energy. The retirees are claiming the companies backed out of promises to pay for their families' healthcare. And now the union is suing.

"These are people who worked for Peabody their whole lives, they retired from Peabody; they never worked a day for a company called Patriot Coal," said Phil Smith, spokesman for United Mine Workers of America. "Another 20 percent of them only worked for Arch Coal. They never worked a day for Patriot. They don't understand how it is that a company that promised them that they would have healthcare all of a sudden doesn't have to live up to that promise."

A Peabody spokesman says one of its companies agreed to cover 10,000 retirees and their families back in 2008. And it says the company has held up its end of the bargain.

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