WASHINGTON-Bridgestone/Fire-stone Inc. and four associations filed suit March 15 against the Labor Department, seeking to stop President Clinton's executive order barring companies that hire permanent replacements for striking workers from holding federal contracts. ``(The executive order) strips the company and other federal contractors of their right under the National Labor Relations Act to hire permanent replacement workers,'' said Charles R. Ramsey, BFS senior vice president-human relations and TQC, in the suit before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Associations, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Labor Policy Association joined BFS in the suit.
The order, signed March 8, gives the secretary of labor authority to investigate firms accused of hiring striker replacements.
If the charges are true, the secretary may either instruct federal agencies to cancel existing contracts with those companies or bar the firms from holding future contracts.
The ban covers only those operating units of a company which actually replaced strikers. BFS hired replacements for strikers at three plants.
Cancellation of existing contracts is not retroactive, but debarment from future contracts is retroactive, which puts BFS at risk, according to Timothy B. Dyk, a Washington attorney representing BFS and the other plaintiffs.
All companies holding contracts of $100,000 or more would be covered by the order. This would affect 90 percent of the dollar value of federal contracts, but only 10 percent of the total number of contracts-about 20 annually, a Labor Department official said.
BFS and the other plaintiffs in the suit said the order tips the balance of power in collective bargaining in organized labor's favor.
The plaintiffs sought expedited action from the court on a preliminary injunction preventing the Labor Department from enforcing the order. If granted, the order would force the court to rule on the injunction within 20 days.