The AFL-CIO's dream of passing legislation that would bar companies from permanently replacing strikers is fading fast. Senate Democratic leaders scrapped plans for a vote before Memorial Day, after Big Labor's lobbying blitz came up three votes short of the 60 it needed to choke off a Senate filibuster. A united business coalition has kept swing senators in line, and some laborites are miffed that President Clinton won't go to the mat for the bill, preferring to hoard his political capital for health-care reform. A defeat this year could mark the death of labor's cherished goal. Its chief Senate advocate, Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), is retiring. And Republicans are expected to pick up Senate seats in the fall elections.

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