CenturyLink workers in West closer to striking

Union leaders representing CenturyLink workers in 13 states have moved closer to allowing a strike but contract talks with the telecommunications company are continuing.

The Communication Workers of America said Thursday that its executive board authorized the union’s president to set a strike date, which would be the final step in going on strike.

Union spokesman Al Kogler says nothing is imminent and the union still hopes to reach a good contract for 13,000 employees who formerly worked for Qwest Communications. They include customer service agents, network technicians and Internet support workers.

Sticking points include increased health care premiums and jobs offshoring. A CenturyLink spokesman says its proposal would bring premiums in line with the national average over several years. It has also proposed returning some jobs to the United States but wouldn’t say how many.