PHENIX CITY, Ala. (Aug. 15)—Negotiations between Continental Carbon Co. and the United Steelworkers of America continue today as the two sides try to reach a new contract agreement for workers at the company's Phenix City plant before the current pact expires at midnight. Carbon black producer Continental Carbon invited a federal mediator to assist in talks, which began Aug. 11, the company said Aug. 14. The current deal covers 33 employees—members of USWA Local 1122—at the firm's Phenix City carbon black facility. Continental Carbon wants a "mutually beneficial" agreement enabling the company to remain competitive and provide for good jobs in the Phenix City area, the firm said. About 85 workers—represented by the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union—have been locked out at Continental Carbon's Ponca City, Okla., plant since May 2001.