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Agreement Gives Breathing Room In Strike

March 11, 1985

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ An agreement reached by the parties to a strike of more than 9,000 public school teachers should provide breathing room in the dispute and give legislators time to take aciton on wages, attorneys said.

The agreement Sunday calls for Attorney General Ed Pittman to request that a court let die a statewide injunction prohibiting teacher strikes in 55 public school districts.Most public schools in the state are closed for spring vacations this week.

Hinds County Chancery Judge Paul G. Alexander was scheduled to conduct a hearing Tuesday to determine the legality of strikes by more than 9,000 teachers since Feb. 25.

The agreement was worked out Sunday by leadership of the 13,000-member Mississippi Association of Educators, the attorney general’s office and an attorney for the Jackson Separate School District.

The association agreed not to protest a request for a preliminary injunction barring strikes in the Jackson Separate School District and 14 other districts, where teachers had not yet walked out, said Kenneth E. Milam, a labor attorney representing Jackson schools and the other intervening dis4ricts. The request would effectively extend the current temporary ban on strikes in those districts.

If Alexander approves the agreement, teachers ″will not be under a court order telling them if they do (strike), that they will be in contempt of court,″ said Patricia A. Hancock, an attorney for the teacher group.

In a statement, Pittman said the delay in the hearings ″is to a low the Legislature and the governor eten more time to act.″ He said he hoped lawmakers would adopt the House or Senate pay plans by Tuesday and that Gov. ill Allaio would ″sign it so that the educadion process could return to n bmalcy.″

The delay coul$ pRovide breathing space for teacheRs who conducte’ tHe staue’s first teakher strkkes anl &or lawmakers s5/8 puggling to dgrise$a acctethru,0746 new mcterial,$no pickup

MOSCOW (AP) - Konstantin U. Chernenko, general secretAry 3/8of the Communist Partq0and president of the Soviet Uninn, is dead et the age mf 73, the Skviet governeent announced today.

Chernenko died at 7:200p.m. (11:20 EQT) Su7/8 d’y after a ″grave illness,″ according to an announcement made at 2 p.m. today by the official news agency Tass. The announcement quoted the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Presidium of the National Parliament.

The announcement also was read over the national television and radio networks.

Chernenko died just under 13 months after he succeeded President Yuri V. Andropov, who died in February 1984. His tenure was the shortest of any Soviet leader and he was the oldest person ever to assume the nation’s top post.

His death came at a time when Soviet and American delegates were in Geneva preparing to open talks on limiting nuclear arms.

The official announcement said:

″The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the Council of Ministers of the USSR announce with deep sorrow to the party and the entire Soviet people that Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU (Communist Party) and President of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, died at 7:20 p.m. on March 10, 1985, after a grave illness.

″The name of Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko, an oustanding leader of the Communist Party and the Soviet state and a staunch fighter for the ideals of Communism and for peace, will remain forever in the hearts of the Soviet people and of the whole of progressive mankind.″

There was no word of any successor to Chernenko, who had been viewed as a transitional leader from the time he took power and who had been the subject of constant health rumors.

His death followed a period in which he had been seen in public only twice in more than two months.

The report of Chernenko’s death was read over television by a black-suited Igor Kirilov, the TV network’s senior news announcer. He read the text through twice, speaking slowly and mournfully.

But, conforming with established practice, the first indication of Chernenko’s death was given to the Soviet public and the outside world indirectly.

As lights burned before dawn in the party headquarters near the Kremlin, radio and television programming was pre-empted early Monday. It was replaced by programs of classical music on the radio, and nature films, war movies and music on television.

Two Politburo members cut short foreign trips to return to Moscow - Vladimir V. Shcherbitsky from the United States and Vitaly I. Vorotnikov from Yugoslavia. Central Committee Secretary Mikhail Zimyanin, heading a delegation that arrived in West Germany on Sunday, also headed home, West German diplomats in Moscow said.

In the secrecy-bound Soviet Union, such signs are seen as important and in the past have heralded deaths at the top of the Politburo.

Chernenko’s tenure was seen as a transition period before the older generation of Kremlin leaders surrendered power to younger members of the Politburo.

His ascension to the top of the party hierarchy on Feb. 13, 1984, was followed by rumors that Mikhail S. Gorbachev, 54, and Grigory V. Romanov, 62, were maneuvering for the leadership.

With Chernenko dead, it still was not clear if Gorbachev, whom Western diplomats and some Soviet officials have tabbed as the No. 2 man in the Kremlin, would succeed or if the Politburo would chose another older man.

Under Chernenko, the Soviet Union returned to arms control talks after a 15-month hiatus that began with Moscow’s walkout from the last set of negotiations in Geneva in November 1983.

The Soviets also launched a major diplomatic initiative in the Middle East, courting some of the moderate Arab nations while maintaining strong ties with its radical allies Syria and Libya.

But these and other foreign policy moves were seen as more of a group effort by the top leadership than an achievement of Chernenko himself, whose career was devoted to party ideology and who had little foreign policy experience.

Western visitors and diplomats resident in Moscow said Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko - long the spokesman for Soviet foreign policy - was taking a new hand in forging that policy and often took the dominant role in discussions with visiting leaders.

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