Some Steuben glass made in Germany

The widely disseminated and often repeated claim that Steuben glass - Corning Inc.'s pricey art glass and tableware - is made solely in Corning is no longer true.

In reality, Steuben's low-priced line of machine-made stemware, barware and drinking accessories, introduced in 2003 to mark the company's 100th anniversary, is made entirely in Germany.It sells for about half the price Steuben used to charge for similar products made by hand in Corning.The little-publicized outsourcing of Steuben's stemware production to Germany occurred after the company decided that producing the glassware in Corning was too expensive, said Stephen A.Mandell Sr., president of Local 1000 of the United Steelworkers of America.

The union represents workers at the Steuben factory at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Now, Mandell said, the union is concerned that Steuben has begun to make another product - that he identifies as a "small bowl" - in Germany.

"It is made in Germany, and they do whatever they do to finish it over here (in Corning)," Mandell said.

A Corning Inc. representative told the union leader that production of the Steuben bowl in Germany is authorized by the same agreement that resulted in the manufacturing of stemware there, Mandell said.

"They are saying it's part of that agreement," Mandell said. "They can make it over there and ship it here cheaper than making it here."

Mandell said he's reviewing the agreement to determine whether it permits the production of non-stemware Steuben products in Germany.

"Me and my officers will be sitting down with Corning and getting to the bottom of it," Mandell said.

Corning Inc. spokesman Daniel F. Collins said Thursday in a written statement that about eight of Steuben's 300 products are made by a major German glass manufacturer under a contract arrangement. He described them as aimed at a "lower-end, high-volume market," with prices ranging from $150 to $250.

Collins declined to identify the German manufacturer. He said that in addition to barware and stemware, which have been made in Germany for two years, "Steuben has contracted for a few other new products" to be produced in Germany.

Collins did not identify the additional items.

The low-priced stemware and barware could not be made in Corning because the Steuben factory here does not have the technology or the equipment to make the mass-produced items, Collins said.

All the products made in Germany carry the Steuben name when they are imported into the U.S., Collins said. He said they are manufactured, inspected and approved according to Steuben's standards.

It has been a lengthy tradition in Corning that Steuben glass is made only at the factory at the Corning Museum of Glass on Centerway.

600450 Some Steuben glass made in Germany
Date: 31 May 2005

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