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About The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902 | View Entire Issue (Nov. 2, 1899)
"Che Conservative ,
WINDOW GLASS TKUST.
Anothcr Example of n Tarlft * Trust.
While the various gloss industries nro
not now as conspicuous tnriff trnst indus
tries as the tin plate industry , they illus
trate even better than does the tin plate
industry the pernicious effects of the pro
tective tariff and the outrages of the
combinations , or "trusts , " to which it
The history of our glass industries for
the last 20 years has been a succession
of combinations , pools , lock-outs , price-
list committees , and agreements fixing
prices and wages and limiting produc
tion on the part of the manufacturers ;
and of labor unions , strikes , wage com
mittees and wage-scale agreements , on
the part of the glass workers. "Wages
and prices change often and radically
and nearly all of these tariff-nursed in
dustries are always in an unsettled , un
stable and unhealthy condition.
The Industry In a Backward State.
The result is that we usually pay
double price for our glass and both the
industry and the workers are in a back
ward state of development fully ten
years behind those of Belgium.
Instead of making the best and cheap
est glass and of dominating the world's
markets , as our unrivalled opportunities
for production would warrant cheapest. .
and best silica , coal , gas and lumber
we are , thanks to our tariff system , only
partially supplying our own market ,
and even that with inferior goods which
sell at double the price of better goods
Instead of the workers being as are
most workers in the unprotected in
dustries the most skillful and inde
pendent of any on earth , they are
especially in the highly protected win
dow glass industry not as highly skilled
as are the Belgians who are continually
coming over to recruit our skilled labor
ranks , after paying the $500 per capita
tariff which our labor union forces from
them before they can go to work.
The glass trusts , with their tariff
clubs , hold up the American consumer
and make him. pay § 2 for one dollar's
worth of glass. The labor unions , with
their alien contract labor laws and
stringent apprenticeship rules , hold up
the manufacturers and succeed in get
ting about 25 cents out of every extra
tariff-dollar wrung from the consumers.
The evils of such methods are not
only apparent throughout the glass in
dustry and in the glass-consuming in
dustries , but they extend into state and
riational politics and form a part of the
"boss" system of government.
Under such conditions and circum
stances , it is a national sin to continue
this tax on sunlight. Some of the lead
ing manufacturers do not hesitate to
say that if there had never been any
tariff on glass our glass industry would
now bo twice as large as it is and w.ould
be employing twice as many men and
using twice as much coal , gas , lum
ber , etc.
Tlio Glass Trusts.
Besides the window glass , which will
be considered at some length , there are
the following trusts in the glass indus
Pittsburg Plate Glass Co. , capital $10-
000,000. Controls G82 ont of 940 pots ,
and agrees on prices with most outsid
ers. Has about doubled prices in last
two years. Pays very low wages
mostly $1.85 to $1.80 a day and allows
no organization of workers. Has very
high tariff protection and utilizes all of
it in its scale of prices.
National Mirror Manufacturers Asso
ciation , has a membership of 58 and
covers every section of the country.
Met on September 80th , and advanced
prices 10 to 15 per cent.
The National Glass Co. , the table
ware combine , is almost completed with
$4,000,000 capital. It will include about
20 plants with a productive capacity of
about COO pots.
The Macbeth-Evans Glass Co. owns
nine lamp chimney plants and over half
of the producing capacity. Is excep
tional in that it exports largely , asks for
no tariff favors , but for free raw
Both the Green and Flint Bottle manu
facturers have organizations which fix
prices and wages.
There are smaller trusts within these
trusts and in other branches of the
The Labor Unions.
Labor unions , which are more of the
nature of trusts than are most labor
unions , exist in about every branch of
the glass industry , except that of plate
glass. Some of these organizations are :
American Flint Glass Workers Union ,
Window Glass Workers Association ,
Window Glass Cutters Association ,
United Green Glass Workers Associa
tion , Window Glass Flatteuers Associa
tion , Green Bottle Blowers Association ,
Improved Green Glass Pressers League.
There are many sub-unions under
these national and general unions and
hundreds of branches and secretaries.
Thus there are thirteen sub-unions and
183 secretaries of local unions in the
American Flint Glass Workers Asso
It is not intended here to complain of
labor unions in general any more than
of trusts in general. It is only intended
to show that the protective tariff tends
to make both trusts and unions bad , and
to enable them , together , to lock up an
industry in the hands of a few who dis
regard entirely the interests of con
sumers and outside laborers. The tariff
invites manufacturers to organize to
fight their employees and the consumer ,
and almost compels the employees to
organize to fight the manufacturers and
the consumers. Tariff and trusts are
the two parts of the machine for regu
lating production and prices ; and iron
clad agreements , ' appronticeship""rules
and alien-contract labor laws constitute
the workers machine for extracting a
part of the tariff spoils from the trusts.
The Window Glass TruHt.
As in most other branches of the glass
industry , trusts in some form have
existed in window glass for twenty
The American Window Glass Manu
facturers Association with its "Price
List Committee , " its "Board of Con
trol , " its "District" and "National
Wage" Committee , and its "Tariff Com
mittee , " was running full blast from
about 1880 to 1888 , and was deciding
how many and what works should be
closed and what wages should be paid
and prices charged. It worked hard to
prevent the passage of the Mills bill in
1888. In 1884 , when there was a short
age of glass , caused by a lockout and a
long fight over wage scales , the manu
facturers themselves became importers
to supply the trade.
There have been since 1880 , periods of
comparative competition and low prices ;
but during such periods the "trust"
people have been playing for a new deal
and a new grip on the industry. Since
1890 the United Glass Company , a cor
poration owning 17 of the 108 plants
then in existence , has formed the back
bone of the window glass trust. From
1893 to 1895 the trust was not in good
working order and prices were com
ThoPresent _ Trust.
In 1895 the American Glass Company ,
selling pool for 85 per cent of the
factories , was formed. This pool soon
had prices Tip to the importing point ,
where it held them firmly until suc
ceeded by the American Window Glass
Company , a corporation with $17,000-
000 capital formed in October , 1899.
This owns factories with a capacity of
about 1900 pots out of a total capacity of
about 2,000 pots. It has not lowered
prices which are about double what they
were four years ago.
The estimated value of the 48 or 50
plants absorbed is said to have been put
at $0,190,000 by one of the > rganizers.
Prices and Profits.
There are so many sizes and grades of
window glass , the schedules of prices
and discounts are so complex , and the
prices change so often and differ so
much in different districts that it is
difficult to compare prices. In general
prices for the last three years have been
nearly double what they were for the
previous three years , and , the duty
averaging nearly 100 per cent , prices are
about double what they are in Belgium
or England. The following summary
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