SEATTLE Boeing and the union representing nearly 24,000 of its engineers and technicians, are talking again Thursday as they try to hammer out a new labor contract.

Talks restarted at 9 a.m. at a Seatac hotel, with a federal mediator present. The two sides met into the evening Wednesday, and talks could go into Friday.

SPEEA officials said union members are preparing for the possibility of a strike, but under union rules it would be weeks before union leaders would be able to authorize one. The last SPEEA walk out -- in 2000 -- lasted 40 days.

Pay, medical benefits and retirement remain major issues for the union and the company. The last round of negations was in early December.

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