President Bush still is weighing whether to step in and avert an impending strike against Eastern Airlines.

Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater suggested Thursday the decision may not come before Friday, when Bush plans to meet with top advisers on the situation. The International Association of Machinists is set to strike Eastern at 12:01 a.m. EST Saturday.A federal judge was considering a motion to allow the machinists union to picket five other airlines - Northwest, USAir, United, Piedmont and Trans World - in the event of a strike. The union also has said it plans pickets at rail, sea and other transportation companies, along with sister airline Continental and Texas Air Corp., parent firm of Eastern and Continental.

Federal mediators have urged Bush to stop the strike, which the machinists say could disrupt air, rail and sea transportation nationwide.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and labor leaders also have urged the president to use his powers to declare a national transportation emergency, postponing any strike for 60 days while a special panel investigates.