About 2,700 Verizon employees in Long Island -- and 45,000 workers nationwide -- were bracing Saturday evening for a possible strike as negotiations over a new union contract neared a midnight deadline.

That's when the current contract expires, prompting union leaders to warn employees about possible picket-line duty Sunday.

"We may be on the streets tomorrow," Communications Workers of America Local 1104 business agent Chris Blom warned hundreds of Verizon workers rallying Saturday in Bethpage.

Local 1104 represents 1,500 Verizon workers in Nassau County, ranging from call-center workers to installation and repair technicians.

Bob Morrow, president of CWA Local 1108, which represents 1,200 Verizon workers in Suffolk County, described the status of labor talks as "terrible."

Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said the company has a contingency plan if workers strike, but he declined to provide any details.

Despite earning $2.5 billion in profits last year, Verizon is dealing with a changing market, Bonomo said. More people are eliminating land lines, and there is greater competition from other wireless carriers and new competitiors like the Internet phone service Skype, he said.

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The company is seeking a number of concessions, including asking workers to contribute up to $100 a month toward health care costs, Bonomo said.

Glenn McLaughlin, 38, a field technician from Valley Stream, said he understands the risks of going on strike. The father of two said he's "barely scraping by" and can't afford to lose ground financially.

The Long Island unions earlier authorized a strike, as did other Verizon employee groups around the country.