More than 12,000 union coal miner retirees are receiving letters warning them they'll lose their health benefits on Dec. 31 without congressional action.
The Patriot Voluntary Employee Beneficial Association shipped the letters last week to The United Mine Workers of America of the now-bankrupt Patriot Coal, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal companies.
The letters say the money will run out Dec. 31 unless Congress passes a bill expected to come up after the Nov. 8 election which would protect health care and pension benefits for about 120,000 former coal miners and their families. Supporters call it a life-saving measure honoring a 70-year-old promise from the federal government after the recent devastating decline of the coal industry.
Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, are wary of bailing out unionized workers.