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DENVER -- CenturyLink workers in 13 western states have voted to authorize a strike if union leaders can't reach a new contract with the communications company.

The Communications Workers of America announced Monday that more than 88 percent of those voting backed the action.

The union and Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink are trying to reach a new contract for 13,000 employees, who formerly worked for Qwest Communications, before the current contract expires Saturday night. The employees include customer service agents, network technicians and Internet support workers.

The union approved a strike in 2008 but a work stoppage wasn't ordered.

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

CenturyLink workers in Montana are negotiating a separate contract.

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