On the eve of its contract deadline with Alcoa Inc., the United Steelworkers will stage an informational picket and take a strike authorization vote today.

Local 105, one of 10 Alcoa plants covered by a master agreement, will picket from 2-4 p.m. in front of Alcoa Davenport Works, Riverdale. Union members will march from the Bettendorf union hall at about 1:45 p.m.

Mike Nicholas, the local's financial secretary, said Steelworkers at all master contract locations are planning events today as negotiations continue in Pittsburgh between the company and the union. "They're not all having pickets, some are doing parking lot rallies," he said. "We feel last (contract) time, our very last picket made some big impressions on the people in Pittsburgh."

The contract expires at midnight Thursday.

The two sides began negotiating in late April on a new master agreement that will cover more than 5,000 employees and 11 locals. Of  the units, Local 105 is the largest local with 1,700 union members at Davenport Works.

Nicholas said the local also will hold a strike authorization vote ahead of the informational picket and throughout the day to accommodate all the shifts. He said the vote would give approval to the bargaining reps "to tell the company they have the votes from the members that can put us out (on strike)." 

Meanwhile, Davenport Works also is preparing for the possibility of a strike should an agreement not be reached by the deadline Thursday.

"Our goal is to reach a fair and competitive agreement by the deadline," said Alcoa spokesman John Riches. "However, we have to take steps in case of a work stoppage."

Riches would not go into details, but said the company "plans to operate the plant" if necessary.