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Qwest's union workers authorize strike

Workers at phone company Qwest Communications authorized a strike if its union can't negotiate a suitable deal with the company.

Qwest Communications union members voted Sunday to authorize a strike if the union can't negotiate an acceptable contract.

About 93 percent of Qwest's employees in the Communications Workers of America union voted to allow its leaders to authorize the strike if they can't work out a deal with management. Contracts for some 20,000 Qwest workers expire at 12:01 a.m. next Sunday, the Associated Press reported.

Qwest, which is based in Denver, is providing communication services for the Democratic and Republican conventions. The Democratic National Convention, which is to be held in Denver, begins August 25. The Republican National Convention in St. Paul begins September 1.

A strike of the workers could potentially disrupt these events. But even if a deal isn't reached between the two parties by the time the current contracts expire, it would not mean that the workers would automatically strike. The union could extend discussions with management until a deal is reached.

Verizon Communications, which was in a similar situation, just reached a deal over the weekend with the CWA and another union. And it's workers did not strike.

The last time the Communications Workers held a strike at Qwest was in 1998, the Associated Press reported.

Qwest workers in the CWA union work in 13 states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.