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CenturyLink workers in Utah and 12 other states have authorized their union leaders to call a strike if they can't reach a contract agreement.

The company's contract with the Communication Workers of America, which represents 820 members in Utah, all of whom work for CenturyLink, expires at midnight Saturday.

CWA spokesman Al Kogler said the union opposes a proposed increase in health care premiums and wants to bring more jobs back to the U.S.

The CWA said more than 88 percent of its 13,000 members working at CenturyLink voted to authorize a strike if necessary. Those employees include customer service agents, network technicians and Internet support workers.

"The vote was part of the [negotiating] process," Kogler said. "It doesn't mean that a strike is going to be called."

He added that union rules prevent CWA leaders from calling a strike unless there has been a vote of the members. "Now that we have that vote taken care of, it will be up to the leadership to determine if a strike is necessary."

He said negotiations are progressing.

The union approved a strike during contract talks in 2008 but a work stoppage wasn't ordered. —

CenturyLink in Utah

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