March 13, 1884: The day Cape Cod workers went on a "Food Strike"

1884: Canal workers stage walk-out over bad food; 2007: Gas may reach $3 by summer
Laborers working on the Cape Cod Canal. Photo credit: www.nae.usace.army.mil

1884: The day Cape Cod workers went on a "Food Strike"

No "collective bargaining" or other worker rights back then

On this day in 1884, as reported in the "Condensed News" column of The Trenton Times

"The laborers on the Cape Cod ship canal refuse to work and say they will not return until better food is provided."

Knowing what we do today about the modest quality of food in New England 125 years ago, it boggles the mind to imagine food so bad that men would quit a job over it.

The revolt over workers' food was one of many problems to plague this early attempt at building the canal. A year earlier, two groups had filed for a charter to begin excavation of the waterway. The winner, chosen in June 1883, was the Cape Cod Ship Canal Company, led by William Seward Jr., Samuel Fessenden of Sandwich, Alfred D. Fox and George H. Titcomb.

The group succeeded in excavating more than 1 million square yards of earth, no small feat for the era, but failed for lack of money.

Another 25 years would pass before New York financier August Belmont, aided by advances in modern engineering, initiated the final successful effort to dig the canal, which opened in July 1914. 

2007: AAA warns fuel may reach $3 by summer  

Cape prices are already over $2.50 - Got to over $4 a year later

On this day in 2007 the American Automobile Club was warning members that the price for regular gas could rise to $3 by summer.

A story in the national press said that not long after Idaho prices reached $2 per gallon for regular, industry analysts are saying prices will likely jump to $3 this year.  Refineries will change from making winter-grade fuel to the cleaner burning summer-grade gas.   The change will mark a price increase as the cost of production goes up.  Elliott Eki, the spokesman for the American Automobile Association for Idaho and Oregon, is warning consumers of increasing gas prices.

“The price of crude is moving closer to the $60 per barrel mark and refineries are preparing for the March switch to the more expensive, cleaner burning summer fuel blends,” Eki said. “In addition, some west coast refineries are conducting routine maintenance and regional demand for gasoline has increased.”  As of Sunday, the average national price for regular gasoline was $2.47.   This is up from last month’s average of $2.16.  California, which has already changed to summer-grade gas, saw prices rise to $2.66 as of Tuesday. 

“Where California goes, so does the rest of the country,” Eki said. Commenting on speculation that prices will reach $3 a gallon. Eki continued, “I suspect it’s a question of how soon. Some California cities are already there. We get really ticked off about the price one year and then the following year we say it’s no big deal. Well, it’s definitely a big deal when the price in your neighborhood goes up 6 cents overnight.”


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