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Clinton Order Bans Federal Contractors From Hiring Strikebreakers

March 8, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Ignoring Republican threats in siding with organized labor, President Clinton planned to sign an order Wednesday forbidding large federal contractors from hiring replacement workers during strikes.

The executive order applies to contracts exceeding $100,000 but is not be retroactive, two senior White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday.

The largely symbolic order, promised last month by Vice President Al Gore, is the latest in a series of overtures to labor as Clinton prepares for re-election. After Republicans seized control of Congress, the president proposed a minimum-wage increase and promised to veto several GOP measures opposed by labor.

Clinton invited AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland to Wednesday’s Oval Office signing ceremony.

A GOP-controlled House subcommittee voted last month to bar Clinton from issuing an executive order on striker replacements. In 1993, legislation to outlaw the permanent replacement of striking workers in private labor disputes was stopped by Republicans in Congress.

``Please do not attempt an end run around the legislative process,″ Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, chairwoman of the Senate Labor Committee, said in a letter to Clinton last month. Kassebaum has asked Attorney General Janet Reno to rule on an executive order’s legality.

``We will move very quickly to introduce legislation to repeal that executive order,″ Mike Horak, spokesman for Kassebaum, said Tuesday evening. ``It goes directly against the will of Congress.″

Administration officials said the order will give the Labor Secretary Robert Reich authority to notify federal agencies any time a company uses replacement workers during a strike. Agencies would be told to bar future contracts with such firms, though the agency head can insist on keeping the contract.

The order will not apply to companies that had replacement workers before the order goes into effect. It is effective immediately.

The senior official said many of the details will hinge on how Reich draws up the regulations.

The White House also acknowledged that Congress can overturn the order but officials there would not speculate about the chances of Clinton sustaining a veto against it.

The administration estimates about 10 percent of federal contracts involving 90 percent of money spent on contracts could be effected by the order.

``It makes the federal government an employer with merit,″ said Rex Hardesty, spokesman for the AFL-CIO. ``It makes the federal government a discerning employer concerned about quality and high morale″ of workplaces.

The White House has argued that replacement workers undermine the collective bargaining process. ``The use of striker replacements is a bad thing for labor-management relations,″ spokesman Mike McCurry said last month.

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