Appomattox.

To many Americans the word Appomattox is synonymous with the end of the Civil War.

The war, however, did not officially conclude at that tiny village west of Petersburg, Virginia. But what happened there in early April 150 years ago certainly marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

After the fall of Richmond, the Confederate capital, on April 2, 1865, officials in the Confederate government, including President Jefferson Davis, fled. The dominoes began to fall. The surrender at Appomattox took place a week later on April 9.

While it was the most significant surrender to take place during the Civil War, Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s most respected commander, surrendered only his Army of Northern Virginia to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Several other Confederate forces—some large units, some small—had yet to surrender before President Andrew Johnson could declare that the Civil War was officially over.

The Grant-Lee agreement served not only as a signal that the South had lost the war but also as a model for the rest of the surrenders that followed.

After Richmond fell and Davis fled, Confederate commanders were on their own to surrender their commands to Union forces. Surrenders, paroles, and amnesty for many Confederate combatants would take place over the next several months and into 1866 throughout the South and border states.

Not until 16 months after Appomattox, on August 20, 1866, did the President formally declare an end to the war.

Read the full story on “Ending the Bloodshed: The Last Surrenders of the Civil War.”

The Biggest Fast Food Strike in History Was About More Than a $15 Minimum Wage

Just after 6 AM on Wednesday morning, hundreds of protesters flooded onto one of Brooklyn’s busier intersections outside a McDonald’s, chanting and marching for $15-an-hour wages. It was the first of a daylong series of demonstrations against low wages that organizers were calling “the most widespread mobilization ever by US workers seeking higher pay"—a mass coordinated action that was expected to spread across more than 200 US cities and include some 60,000 demonstrators.

It was the largest effort yet for the campaign known as Fight for $15 , which began in 2012 with a fast-food employees strike in New York City and has since expanded into a broader economic justice protest movement, encompassing a range of low-wage workers, from Walmart cashiers to home health care aides and adjunct professors at universities. In the last three years, the crusade has picked up momentum globally, backed by millions of dollars from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of America’s largest labor unions.

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Ah, the old “blatant anti-unionisation propaganda” technique! Classic free market capitalism!

As Japan’s annual wage talks climax this month, one of the obstacles to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign for outsized pay raises has its roots in the 1940s: a stunted union movement.

The nation’s top union boss, Nobuaki Koga, doesn’t personally know what it’s like to go on strike. Koga, the president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, says he has mixed feelings about what became a cozy relationship between employers and their company-based unions.

Cooperation – encouraged during the U.S. occupation, when General Douglas MacArthur cracked down on aggressive unions – helped fuel the nation’s rapid postwar revival. Now, weakened by economic stagnation and the legacy of a fractured labor movement, unions are struggling to pressure Japan’s biggest companies, even as they post record profits amid low unemployment.

Any failure to secure higher pay during the annual spring campaign risks accelerating a decline in the number of union members, which peaked in 1994. Public support for Abe’s government is also on the line, along with his effort to reflate the world’s third-largest economy.

Without wage increases that induce consumers to spend rather than save, Japan may struggle to sustain price gains to keep its tentative emergence from deflation on track, according to Daiju Aoki, an economist at UBS Group AG in Tokyo.

Early signs indicate that unions will have a tough time.

Toyota Motor Corp., which has forecast a bigger annual profit than all other Japanese automakers combined, last month rebuffed a proposal from its in-house union for the largest pay bump since 1998.

Japan’s system today owes much to a decision by MacArthur during the 1945-52 occupation to abandon an initial move to encourage U.S.-style unions. As the Cold War began taking hold, he acted against left-wing groups, and banned a general strike in 1947.

The so-called red purge that ensued also hobbled opposition parties. Thousands of union members were fired from both public sector and private jobs.

if you look at the url, the headline originally highlighted the role of america and macarthur in demolishing japan’s unions and creating a civil society subordinate to capital, but i guess they had to change it for some reason

Today in labor history, April 16, 1947: 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate on board a ship docked in the port of Texas City detonate, setting off a chain reaction of explosions and fires on other ships and nearby oil storage facilities. At least 581 people were killed and thousands more were seriously injured in the deadliest industrial disaster in U.S. history. As a result, changes in chemical manufacturing and new regulations for the bagging, handling, and shipping of chemicals were enacted.