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WASHINGTON-The Clinton administration is expected to issue new rules restricting the ability of companies that violate workplace safety rules to enter into federal contracts.

Vice President Albert Gore Jr. unveiled the new policy last week during the AFL-CIO's winter meeting in Los Angeles. Details of the policy will be in regulations expected to be issued in the next few weeks. Companies, unions and other interested parties will have 60 days to comment before the regulations become effective.

"We're going to send a message to companies that want to do business with the federal government: How you treat employees and how you treat unions counts with us. If you want to do business with the federal government, you'd better maintain a safe workplace and respect civil, human and union rights," said Mr. Gore.

While labor cheered the proposals, business groups criticized the proposed restrictions.

"The union-friendly proposals are a cheap political payoff to the AFL-CIO for the $35 million in union dues they spent attacking congressional Republicans in the last elections," said Jeffrey H. Joseph, vp-domestic policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. "This is a crystal-clear case of changing policy to reward" past political support, he said.