Indiana Glass | home
1980 to 2002
Indiana Glass did make a few carnival glass items in the early 80's. They started making the Windsor pattern in blue carnival glass. I included that under the Other Blue section. Click on the link below to go to the
The carnival glass craze was pretty much over and the blue carnival Windsor pattern had a short production run. There are a couple of iridized pieces in a pattern called Whitehall. And that's about it for the 1980's carnival glass. The carnival glass revival was over.
In 1983, Lancaster Colony bought the historic Fostoria Glass Company. Some of the Fostoria molds were purchased by the Indiana Glass Co. and reproduced for the Tiara Line. Indiana Glass also bought some of the old Federal Glass molds and Imperial molds and these were used for Tiara reproductions. None of the reproductions were made in carnival glass. Below is a chart showing some of the other company molds used by Indiana Glass to produce glass for Tiara.
The only Harvest mold used was the #1259 (Gold carnival wedding bowl). It was made in Premier Blue and it was not iridized. Indiana Glass made glass for Tiara for 28 years, until 1998 when Tiara closed.
Throughout the 90's, Indiana Glass made Coke glasses for Coca Cola, platters for Budweiser and other promotional type items. They also supplied Wal-Mart with many of their glass items such as vases and candleholders. They also continued to make the Hen on the Nest in clear glass. You could buy it at Wal-Mart for 4.99. Indiana Glass made that hen almost right up to the day they closed. They made it for 70 years.
Below are some of the non-Tiara items Indiana Glass made in the late 80's and through the 90's.
The Bitter End
When Tiara closed in 1998, things went downhill for Indiana Glass. Foreign competition and the bankruptcy of retail stores like Kmart were also contributing factors. They tried to establish some new candleholder and vase contracts but the economy was slow. They were still producing glass for Wal-Mart but one cannot live by Wal-Mart alone.
The factory had other problems that had slowly simmered to a boil. Indiana Glass workers had given in to the demands of Lancaster Colony over the years. They had given until they could give no more. On October 8, 2001 The American Flint Glass workers Local 501 voted 267 to 63 to strike.
The strike was a violent and bitter one and it had very little to do with wage or benefit increases. The work force had been cut from 1,000 in 1974 to 400 in 2001. Those 400 were expected to do the work of 1,000. As one picketer explained, "If you are doing the jobs of two or three people, by the time you leave the factory, you are dragging."
Lancaster Colony wanted to do away with seniority. They wanted "unlimited interchangeability" If you were out sick or had to be absent for more than a few days, you might get a very "low man's" job when you returned. The company could move you from job to job at will. Wage rates, job descriptions and job evaluations could be changed by management at any time. Also, Lancaster Colony wanted to impose up to 8 hours a day "mandatory overtime". On any given day you could work up to 16 hours. This would have been a great hardship on single parents who could not always arrange child care for that length of time. Management did not have to give you notice and you could not refuse the extra hours. And if you worked in the hot end of the factory, the temperature was ungodly during the peak of summer. The union felt this could lead to major safety issues. "Hot, tired, fatigued workers, someone could get hurt. We want a place to work but we want to be treated like human beings too."
Lancaster Colony had "threatened" the City of Dunkirk with closure many times and as a result, received many large tax abatements. Very little of the money was ever used to update or replace machinery, the factory itself was 100 years old. Health and safety issues were key factors that triggered the strike. The strike lasted 97 days. Work resumed in January 2002 but it was a very short lived victory for the workers of Indiana Glass. In November 2002, Lancaster Colony announced it was halting all glass making operations at Indiana Glass in Dunkirk, IN. The opertation would be consolidated into the company's Sapulpa, OK factory.
I know there are two sides to every story, so I have searched the Lancaster Colony records for their side. Bottom line is, Indiana Glass needed to make X amount of profit. Indiana Glass was a thing to them, not a factory full of human beings. They did not care about safety or new equipment or putting money into the factory. They did not care about those people. They lost the strike battle but they won the war. They did not get their way so they squashed the little town of Dunkirk, IN.
On November 26, 2002 they snuffed out the fires under the furnaces at the E Street factory in Dunkirk, IN ending more than 100 years of glassmaking. They devastated the lives of 340 families, many of whom were third generation glass makers.
Dean and Diane Fry went to Dunkirk, IN on September 12, 2003 to obtain the Indiana Glass Factory pictures used on this site. They spoke with some of the Dunkirk residents at the Dunkirk Glass Museum.
Diane states, " ........the townsfolk we spoke with that day in the Dunkirk Glass Museum, remain BITTER to this day, about the events and eventual closing of what had been the MAINSTAY of that little town. PROFIT is the dirty word for business, no matter WHERE it takes place! Reason for the move to Sapulpa, OK: cheaper natural gas and a right to work state allowing scab labor."
Also from Diane, "The Corporate headquarters is now located in Cinn. OH. The original site (factory) there in Dunkirk is now used ONLY by the mold makers for re-tooling old molds, cleaning them, etc. and the rest of the facility is used for storage of things brought from OK. for marketing here in the East. The town of Dunkirk has gone from a population of more than 4000 down to little more than 2200. Empty homes sit all over town and there are NO realtors at all. This is a prime example of literally hundreds of manufacturing and industrial towns all over this once great Country......"
I once asked David Doty (carnival glass book author) why Indiana Glass was treated with such little respect. He replied that perhaps if they had marked their glass, they would be thought of with greater kindness in the carnival glass collecting world. That was not a decision that Indiana Glass could make, their parent company, Lancaster Colony chose not to mark their glass.
Many of the Indiana Glass factory workers were third generation glass makers who took great pride in their work. Indiana Glass had many unique "firsts" due to the skills and creativity of the Indiana Glass workers. They turned out some beautiful and much loved glass despite the poor working conditions, inferior materials and old machinery. Our collectible glass was produced through the blood, sweat and tears of the good folks of Dunkirk, IN. For that fact alone, Indiana Glass deserves our heart felt thanks and our respect. If we don't, then we are no better than Lancaster Colony.
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