Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PARAGRAPHS 101-102-PLATE GLASS.

The importers claim that the present rates of duty are dangerous because they put a premium upon the promotion of trade combinations. This statement is at least lacking in seriousness, for, if the manufacturers were ever going to combine for the purpose of advancing their own interests at the expense of the consuming public, they would have done so. To-day, with the late interpretation by the Supreme Court of the antitrust acts, the suggestion of such a combination is preposterous. The plate-glass manufacturers as a whole have made very little money for the past 10 years; most of them have paid no dividends whatever, and the dividends have been totally inadefor any normal business condition; and of all this the public has been reaping its advantage.

The importers say the American manufacturers only get 20 or 21 cents a foot, while in other parts of their brief they quote domestic prices which they say average from 30 to 41 cents per square foot. These contradictory statements need no comment, except that the American manufacturers readily admit that the selling prices have een altogether too low-too low, in fact, to leave anything for depreciation, and frequently nothing for overhead charges; but there never has been any average selling price for any American factory nearly as low as the figure of 20 to 21 cents.

The importers claim that it is not necessary to verify the foreign cost which they give (14.79 cents), as it was practically admitted by the plate-glass manufacturers at the hearings in the Sixtieth Congress. They ignore entirely the fact that, by the introduction of the Lehr, an American device, it should be remembered, and other important improvements in methods of grinding and polishing, the foreigners have reduced their cost 3 to 4 cents per foot in the past four years. The comparative cost sheets submitted by the importers are ingenious only as they deal in invention and not in facts. For example: It is the cost sheet of an old type of kiln factory now obsolete; it omits altogether an important item of cost—the breakage and shrinkage incident to manufacture. The shrinkage charge in connection with general expenditure is not sufficient to cover that incident to cutting orders, and can not by any pretense cover the shrinkage incident to manufacture; it charges soda ash at $26 per ton, a price that was current 20 years ago. The present price is about half that figure. These facts, which could be largely added to, if it were necessary to give cumulative evidence of what we say as to the methods pursued in the preparation of their briels, are all unqualifiedly contradicted by The Audit Co. as well as by the consular reports. We respectfully submit that the committee should not be called upon to waste its valuable time on inferences and guesses, when they are afforded every opportunity to examine and ascertain the facts and conditions as they exist.

The importers say that the American public have paid heavily for the excessive protection given to the plate-glass industry, and refer to various fluctuations in prices.

This statement is answered in part by the fact that the fluctuations in the prices of plate glass have on the whole in recent years been less than in most other commodities; that the high prices have been very brief in their duration, due to temporary shortages of production or excessive demand. But the best answer to unsupported and inaccurate assertions is the fact that the industry has made so little money during the period in question, while, as we have shown the committee, there has been a gradual and progressive decrease in the cost of the product to the consumer.

The importers also give us a further evidence of the method adopted in the preparation of their briefs:

"That the ink was hardly dry on that document (the Payne-Aldrich bill) when new prices, as shown on page 12, were issued.''

This is a wholly indefensible statement, inasmuch as the impression is sought to be conveyed that the prices were advanced as the outgrowth of the Payne-Aldrich bill.

As a matter of fact, of the 1l prices shown, 8 were within the range in which the duty was reduced from 35 to 22} cents by the Payne-Aldrich bill, 1 was for the 5 to 10 foot bracket, which in the Payne-Aldrich bill remained unchanged, and only 2 were within the range of the two brackets, the 5 square feet and under, upon which the very slight increase in rates was made.

Another misleading statement is with regard to the Belgian manufacturers having no foreign market in which to dump for the reason that 90 per cent of their product goes into foreign markets. The brief omits to say that practically all of this 90 per cent of glass exported goes into markets other than the United States, which they absolutely control and in which they maintain fictitiously high prices, due to the operations of their syndicate.

While they are shipping a comparatively small part of the 90 per cent to the American market they could, by operating their plants to full capacity, largely increase this output, as the articles from the Action Economique clearly show, and dump their sur

a

PARAGRAPHS 101-102-PLATE GLASS.

plus into this country at cost without in any wise affecting the export trade they now control, and upon which they make a very large profit. The increase in production thus made possible will also enable then to largely reduce their cost and further increase their inflated profits, which now run as high as 83 per cent per annum.

There ought certainly not to be, if the prosperity of American industry is to be regarded, any further invitation to commit this wrong. Having therefore conclusively shown to the committee

I. That the American industry is in a highly competitive condition, first, with regard to glass for glazing purposes among themselves, and, second, that they are in active competition not only among themselves but with the importers under the existing rates of duty with regard to glass for mirror purposes and other selected requirements;

II. That under this existing state of competition the profits realized by the manufacturers are altogether too meager for the healthy perpetuation of any industry;

III. That, according to the Audit and consular reports, the cost of foreign production and the home cost of production is scarcely equalized and allowed for by the present tariff;

IV. That this foreign cost would be appreciably lower if the foreign factories were running full and not curtailing production by the arbitrary, dictatorial operations of the foreign trust; and

V. That no trust or combination or understanding exists among American manufacturers as to the output or prices of product, or otherwise, but that the foreign trade is completely in the hands of the trust and that there is in this trust a real menace to the American industry if conditions are made to favor its operation in this market; we submit that no reduction in the present rates of duty can be justified. Respectfully submitted,

Allegheny Plate Glass Co., Glassmere, Pa.; American Plate Glass Co.,

Kane, Pa.; Columbia Plate Glass Co., Blairsville, Pa.; Federal Plate
Glass Co., Ottawa, Ill.; Heidenkamp Mirror Co., Springdale, Pa.;
Penn American Plate Glass Co., Alexandria, Ind.; Pittsburgh Platé
Glass Co., Pittsburgh, Pa.; Saginaw Plate Glass Co., Saginaw, Mich.;
St. Louis Plate Glass Co., Valley Park, Mo.; Standard Plate Glass Co.,
Butler, Pa.; Edward Ford Plate Glass Co., Rossford, Ohio; Kittanning

Plate Glass Co., Kittanning, Pa.
January 30, 1913.
Filed by Harrison Osborne, 34 Nassau Street, New York, N. Y.

EXHIBIT A.

(From the Action Economique, Dec. 1, 1912.)

INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION OF PLATE GLASS MANUFACTURERS--THE CONDITIONS OF

ITS RENEWAL--THE ORGANIZATION OF A COMMERCIAL AND CONTINENTAL UNION OF PLATE GLASS MANUFACTURERS---THE PURPOSE OF THIS UNION.

We think it may be interesting to give some details concerning the conditions under which the International Convention of Plate Glass Manufacturers was renewed.

This organization, as is known, began to exist really on the 17th of August, 1904, and ended on the 17th of August, 1909; it was renewed about two years before this last date for a period of five years, and on the 15th of November last it was decided to again extend it; but this time for a period of 10 years beginning with the expiration of the agreements, viz, the 17th of August, 1914, so as to end it on the 17th of August, 1924. The concluded agreements embrace practically the whole of the European factories with the exception of the Société des Glaces de Courcelles and the firm of Pilkington Bros. at St. Helens (England). The following corporations are members of the syndicate:

First. Manufactures de Glaces et Produits Chimiques de St. Gobain, at Paris (factories at St. Gobain, Chaumy, Cirey, Montlucon, Mannheim, Stolberg, Pise, and Franiere).

Second. Nouvelle Société des Glaceries Néerlandaises, at Sas de Gand (Netherland). Third. Schlesische Spiegel Manufactur Carl von Tielsch, at Altwasser (Germany). Fourth. Société Anonyme de Glaces Nationales Belges, at St. Roch Auvelais. Fifth. Société Anonyme Glacerie Germania, at Porz Urbach (Cologne), principal office at St. Roch Auvelais.

PARAGRAPHS 101-102-PLATE GLASS.
Sixth. Société Anonyme de Glaces de Ste. Marie d'Oignies, at Aiseau.
Seventh. Compagnie de Floreffe, at Floreffe.

Eighth. Société Anonyme des Glaces de Moustier-sur-Sambre, at Moustier-surSambre.

Ninth. Société Anonyme des Glaces de Auvelais, at Auvelais.
Tenth. Société Anonyme des Glaces de Charleroi, at Roux.

Eleventh. Compagnies réunies des Glaces et Verres spéciaux du Nord de la France, at Jeumont (a corporation formed by the fusion of the Compagnie des Glaces at Verres spéciaux de France at Boussois and of the Compagnie des Glaces et Verres spéciaux du Nord, at Jeumont).

Twelfth. Société Anonyme des Verreries et Manufacture des Glaces d'Aniche, at Aniche (North).

Thirteenth. Société Anonyme des Glaceries et Charbonnages de Bohême, at Stankau (Bohemia), principal office at Brussels.

Fourteenth. Société Anonyme Glas-und Spiegel Manufactur, at Schalke (Westphalia).

Fifteenth. Société Anonyme Herzogenrather-Spiegelglas und Spiegelfabrik, at Herzogenrath (Germany).

Sixteenth. Société Anonyme Rheinische Spiegelglasfabrik, at Eckamp, near Ratingen (Germany).

Seventeenth. Société Anonyme Deutsche Spiegelglas A. G., at Freden (Hanover).

The convention is, in fact, an organization having as its object to establish prices and sale conditions of plate glass, polished and unpolished, plain or silvered, on the different markets. All the factories of the convention, that is to say, all the European plate-glass factories (with the exception of Courcelles and Pilkington, with the reservation which we shall give later), have agreed between themselves to respect the prices and sale conditions as fixed by the convention, and not to evade them in any way, under penalty of heavy fines, either favoring the buyer by taking all the breakage risks or by guaranteeing for each delivery a premium for breakage if it should reach a certain percentage.

The convention desiring to bring production in direct relation to consumption, each factory must shut down as many days per quarter that it is directed.

Every plate-glass factory, whether German, Belgian, French, or Austrian, may sell on all the markets without any distinction whatsoever, in Belgium, Holland, England, Germany, Austria-Hungary, in the Balkans, in Italy, Spain, Extreme Orient, Orient, Russia, Poland, Finland, Scandinavia, South America, United States of America, Canada, and Africa. It is sufficient that the contracting firm should respect the conditions and prices as fixed by the convention. Each factory has, moreover, its own agent in practically every market.

As a matter of fact, competition exists between the factories which are members of the convention; but it is simply limited to the quality of glass which is furnished, the prompt delivery, the care taken in packing, and other secondary details.

The Pilkington and Courcelles factories have themselves given up price competition with the factories of the convention. These two manufacturers, although not bound by any understanding, nevertheless observe the prices of the syndicate, and, in fact, their competition does not go beyond that which is authorized between the affiliated factories.

Had the syndicate not been renewed it would have resulted to the enormous prejudice of the interests of the plate-glass industry. There would in fact have been a return to the situation prevailing before 1904. At that time the plate-glass industry was going through a very acute crisis. Through excessive competition, prices had fallen in considerable proportion, and, on the other hand, the rise in price of the raw materials influenced unfavorably the cost price. Under these conditions, the future of this industry seemed very dark, and though some strong companies could face without fear a price war, the situation was not the same for the other companies, especially for those whose products are not of the first quality.

One may say that under these conditions, without any exaggeration, the nonrenewal of the convention would have been a disaster for the great majority of the factories.

It had lately been reported that the German syndicate of plate-glass manufacturers and the international syndicate had decided to extend their agreement for a new period of 10 years.

The information in this shape is not quite exact, and the reason why is this:

The Verband Deutscher Spiegelfabriken is the syndicate of plate-glass manufacturers which regulates the market of the German Confederation, from the point of view of prices and sale conditions. But the German factories have joined the con

PARAGRAPHS 101-102-PLATE GLASS.

vention, and the latter has adopted for the sale in Germany the conditions of the verband. There has, therefore, not been, and there could not have been, a renewal of the understanding, so to speak, between the verband and the convention, because in fact there is no special understanding between these two organizations, which are working together. The renewal of the convention implied that of this understanding. In fact, the verband is a division of the convention which each of its members has joined.

A new event has marked this year the negotiations which have taken place concerning the renewal of the International Convention of Plate Glass Manufacturers. There is under consideration the draft of a constitution of an actual plate-glass trust which shall be named l'Union Internationale et Commerciale des Glaceries. This project will not be long delayed. A plan for the organization of this union is at present submitted for the definite approval of the interested parties.

L'Union Internationale et Commerciale des Glaceries will centralize at Brussels, all the commercial services of the plate-glass companies, thus forming, as we said, a genuine trust, a trust which will control all the branches interested in the plate-glass industry, because the new organization makes provision in its by-laws for being a party to the production of raw materials, of shipping companies, etc.

Contrary to what might be supposed, l'Union Internationale et Commerciale des Glaceries is not intended to replace the International Convention of Plate Glass Manufacturers. The renewal of the latter has brought about the foundation of the union. The union will act as an exporter which will buy the production of all the factories, in accordance with its needs; that is, the orders received at a price fixed per square meter, and resell this production at price and conditions fixed by the convention.

The capital of the union will be furnished by the factories of the convention, which will pay into the corporation to be formed a part of their own capital.

This proposition originates from Mr. Henin, administrator of the plate-glass factories of Charleroi, at Roux. It is, as one may see, tremendous, and is bound to strengthen still further the position of the plate-glass industry, and the union among the members of the syndicate

A. MAUREY.

(From the Action Economique, Doc. 8, 1812.)

We have given in the last number of the Action Economique some information concerning the renewal of the International Convention of Plate Glass Manufacturers.

We think it may be useful to complete this with more precision.

The principal object of the convention, as we said before, is to put production in direct relation to consumption, so as to give stability to the prices and avoid an overproduction, injurious to every industry. The production of the factories is, therefore, limited by the imposition of a certain shutdown. If, for example, a shutdown of 45 per cent is decreed, the factory would only be allowed to produce 55 per cent of its productive capacity.

How is the control of this shutdown process effected? In the following way: The factories can produce at will any amount of rough plate glass; but as soon as it is subjected to the finishing process the control by way of shutdown interferes. The grinding and polishing apparatus are sealed for the number of days or hours during which the shutdown is decided for each period of three months.

New agreements have been talked about in view of an understanding on the limitation of the respective productions between the convention and the famous English Pilkington Co. which, as is true of the Courcelles Co., is not a member of the convention, but respects the prices fixed by it. It is important to notice that the only difference, or at least the most important one with the other affiliated factories, is that the English Co. does not pay any attention to the special conditions of each market (for example, the sizes intended for mirrors sold in qualities used for windows). Therefore, there has not been, and there could not have been, negotiations in view of a new agreement between the Pilkington Co. and the convention, the existing agreements renewing themselves automatically at the same time as the convention itself. The situation, in this direction, is identical with that of the verband for Germany, and it is, in fact, that of the French group: In other words, there are three protected markets, viz, France, Germany, and England, which are governed by their own federation of manufacturers under the control of the convention.

It is nevertheless true that efforts are being made to obtain from the Pilkington Co. a limitation of its production, and it is precisely in view of this that the new

reason.

PARAGRAPHS 101-102-PLATE GLASS. organization l'Union des Glaceries, whose organization we have referred to, will be able to be of service..

We can already, in the most formal fashion, affirm this: The business activity of l'Union Internationale et Commerciale des Glaceries (International and not Continental) is only a question of three or four months.

The constitution of this organization is to-day a definite one. Certain manufacturers, it is true, were hesitating to join the union before the renewal of the convention; but the fact itself of this renewal for a period of 10 years has done away with this. Alone, the Glaceries Nationales Belges have not yet given their assent, but one may predict that it will not be long before they join, their holding aloof being without

The union will be, as we have already said, a genuine trust. It will concentrate the production of all the factories and will buy it in toto at a price per square meter fixed by the union itself, the latter being the representative of all the plate glass factories. Rebates will naturally be granted to the different factories according to the sale prices.

The principal advantage of the union will be in fact the complete suppression of competition. The present competition on the quality of glass and the quality of the packing will be itself completely done away with. There will be no more glass of Floreffe, or Charleroi, or Auvelais; there will only be union glass. The distinction will have enormous consequences, especially from the point of view of modifications which will have to be made in the organization of sales on foreign markets, where the factories all have actually their own agents.

We may add: The capital of l' Union Commerciale et Internationale des Glaceries will be of 2,000,000 francs.

A. M. Note.—The sales corporation above referred to—which is the final step taken by the trust to wholly dominate the foreign industry-was formally incorporated at Brussels in December, 1912, under the name of Union Commerciale Continentale.

BRIEF OF SEMON BACHE & CO. RELATIVE TO ROUGH PLATE

GLASS.

PARAGRAPH 101.

New York, January 25, 1913. THE COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: The duties in this paragraph are ostensibly levied on a square-foot basis, but the provision that any excess over a weight of 1 pound per square foot shall be dutiable at the same rate practically converts the rates to a weight basis, as none of the glass weighs as little as 1 pound to the foot; that is, the rates of cent, 1 cents, and 1} cents per square foot are actual rates of } cent, 1} cents, and 1} cents per pound.

Samples of the commoner varieties of the material covered by this paragraph are sent herewith. The process of manufacture is very simple. The molten metal is ladled out of the melting pot or tank and poured on an iron casting table from 2 to 4 feet wide and about 12 feet long and a roller is then run over it. A plain casting table is used for the ordinary rough glass. The ribbed glass and the various patterns shown by the samples are produced by cutting the ribs or the patterns in the surface of the table. In the case of wire glass, the wire is forced into the glass during the rolling process. Nogrinding or polishing of any sort is done and the operation above described covers the entire manufacturing process with the exception of the annealing. In short, compared with other varieties of glass, the proportion of the labor cost to the total cost of the product is very small, the principal items of cost being the melting materials and the fuel, both of which are cheaper here than in Europe.

The bulk of this glass is sold by the manufacturers in the original stock sheets just as they come from the casting table, although there is a considerable volume of sales of glass cut to the exact sizes required. The product is so cheap that the sizes do not affect the price, stock sheets being sold at a uniform price per square foot regardless of size, and glass cut to size is also usually sold at a uniform price enough higher than the stock sheets to cover the cost of cutting, waste, etc.; that is, unlike plate glass, window glass, and practically all other varieties of glass, the price per square foot has no relationship to the size, small sizes and large sizes being sold at the same price.

« AnteriorContinuar »