In a desperate attempt to save 1,173 French jobs at a failing Goodyear tire plant, French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg approached Titan International Inc. Chairman and former Republican presidential hopeful Maurice Taylor to see if the American CEO would be interested in purchasing the factory.
And like most things American, Taylor’s response to Montebourg was blunt and to the point: “Do you think we’re stupid?”
No, really, in a letter published Wednesday by Les Echos, Taylor — whose bearish negotiating style earned him the the nickname “The Grizz” — had nothing but criticism for France’s work ethic.
“I have visited that factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but work only three hours,” the turnaround artist said in a letter dated Feb 8.
“They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!” he added.
Goodyear announced in January its intention to shutter the plant after five years of negotiating with the Communist-backed CGT, France’s largest union, failed to produce results.
“Sir, your letter states that you want Titan to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with the money and the talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government,” Taylor said.
“Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour wage and ship all the tires France needs,” he added. “You can keep the so-called workers.”
Shortly after Les Echos published the letter, the CGT union responded angrily to the American CEO, saying the “insulting” letter showed Taylor to be more of a “lunatic” than a person suitable “to hold the reins of a multinational,” according to the Financial Times.
It’s worth noting that the CGT fought against the idea of a Titan takeover from day one.
“He says that the union is crazy, the government is sh– and that [President Barack] Obama is a joke and he is going to produce in China . . . What he’s said today is not the way to break into [the European market],” said CGT official Mickaël Wamen.
Here’s Taylor’s complete letter:
Wow. Just wow.
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(H/T: IBT). Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated.