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(Updated 9:02 p.m.)
The chairman of Titan International, a major U.S. producer of tires for farming and construction, has made it perfectly clear to France that he has no intentions of putting French workers on his payroll.
Titan has plants around the world, including Europe, and French industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg suggested to Chairman Maurice Taylor that his company take over a Goodyear plant due to close north of Paris, putting 1,000 workers out of work. Titan also makes Goodyear farm tires.
“How stupid do you think we are?” Taylor wrote to Montebourg in a letter obtained by European media outlets. The U.S. exec, whose nickname is “The Grizz,” then proceeds to rip the French official over how little his fellow citizens work.
“I have visited that factory a couple of times,” Taylor said of the Amiens facility. “The French workforce gets paid high wages, but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three hours.”
The letter also added a kicker: “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. You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amiens North factory.”
Montebourg has since responded in a follow-up letter:”Your words, as extremist as they are insulting, show a perfect ignorance of our country,” the French government official wrote.
Quincy, Ill.-based Titan makes tires under its corporate name for agriculture, construction, forestry and mining vehicles. Taylor, who made a 1996 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, also knocked the French government and U.S. government for getting in the way of industry.