The scale dependence of the statistical alignment tendencies of the eigenvectors of the strain-rate tensor ei, with the vorticity vector ω, is examined in the self-preserving region of a planar turbulent mixing layer. Data from a direct numerical simulation are filtered at various length scales and the probability density functions of the magnitude of the are examined. It is observed that alignment cosines between the two unit vectors |ei·ω| the alignment tendencies are insensitive to the concurrent large-scale velocity fluctuations, but are quantitatively affected by the nature of the concurrent large-scale velocity-gradient fluctuations. It is confirmed that the small-scale (local) vorticity vector is preferentially aligned in parallel with the large-scale (background) extensive strain-rate eigenvector e1, in contrast to the global tendency for ω to be aligned in parallel with the intermediate strain-rate eigenvector [Hamlington et al., Phys. Fluids 20, 111703 (2008)]. When only data from regions of the flow that exhibit strong swirling are included, the so-called high-enstrophy worms, the alignment tendencies are exaggerated with respect to the global picture. These findings support the notion that the production of enstrophy, responsible for a net cascade of turbulent kinetic energy from large scales to small scales, is driven by vorticity stretching due to the preferential parallel alignment between ω and nonlocal e1 and that the strongly swirling worms are kinematically significant to this process.