DAYTON, Ohio (AP) _ Merger negotiations are underway between the International Union of Electronic Workers and the United Mine Workers, the Dayton Daily News reported today.

``We are in heavy merger talks and I hope it happens because both unions would be much stronger,'' said Mike Bindas, president of an IUE chapter in Dayton.

The IUE represents 130,000 members across the nation _ including 13,500 workers at five Dayton-area auto plants _ and the UMW has 60,000 members.

``The only way the IUE can truly protect its independence is by buddying up with another independent union, so a merger like that would make a lot of sense,'' said Sean McAlinden, a labor researcher at the University of Michigan.

If an agreement is reached, the unions would start with an affiliation before completing a full merger, Bindas said.

The IUE also has discussed merging with the United Auto Workers and the United Steel Workers of America, but a deal with those unions is unlikely at this time, Bindas said.

A message requesting additional comment from the IUE was left today at the union's national headquarters in Washington. There was no answer to calls to UMW headquarters, also in Washington.