WASHINGTON-The harm that Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. will suffer from President Clinton's striker replacement executive order is nothing compared with the harm the government will suffer from not being able to enforce it. That argument was used by the Labor Department in its Aug. 7 motion to try to persuade the District of Columbia federal district court to lift its July 31 temporary injunction barring implementation of the President's order.
Under that March 8 order, firms which hire permanent striker replacements may not hold or bid on federal procurement contracts.
The Labor Department also notified BFS July 28 that it will be barred officially from holding federal contracts for violating the Clinton order.
As of Sept. 12, there was no further action in the case, aside from the Labor Department motion.
Bridgestone/Firestone-along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Trucking Associations and the Labor Policy Association-filed suit in the district court March 15 to permanently bar the federal government from enforcing the order.
A district court judge ruled July 31 that President Clinton acted well within his authority in issuing the order, countering the plaintiffs' argument that his action was unconstitutional.
But because of the ``irreparable harm'' the plaintiffs might suffer by enforcement of the order, the judge granted a temporary injunction until a higher court could review her decision.
According to the Labor Department, however, the plaintiffs never proved they would suffer irreparable harm through enforcement of the order.
``To the contrary, plaintiffs have not specified how compliance with the order would alter the balance of power in labor negotiations, nor have they identified any concessions they likely would make as a result of foregoing (sic) the use of permanent striker replacements,'' the department said in its brief.
The government, on the other hand, is suffering ``real and immediate'' harm from the injunction, according to the brief. ``The Department of Labor must halt enforcement activities. . . under an executive order which the president considers extremely important and which this court has held that it has no authority to review.''
A federal court ``should give the same deference to an executive order that it must to an act of Congress,'' and not abrogate enforcement through a temporary injunc-tion, the department said.
The brief came 10 days after the department's letter to BFS CEO Masatoshi Ono, informing him that the firm meets all the criteria for debarment under the striker replacement order.