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In France, Kidnapping the Boss Usually Pays Off

Workers igniting a bonfire of tires in front of the Goodyear plant in Amiens, France, on Jan. 7
Workers igniting a bonfire of tires in front of the Goodyear plant in Amiens, France, on Jan. 7Photograph by Thibault Camus/AP Photo

Maurice Taylor, chairman of U.S. tire maker Titan International, didn’t mince words when he learned that two Goodyear Tire & Rubber executives were being held hostage by workers in France this week. “They’re crazy,” he told French radio station RTL before police intervened to free the executives on Tuesday. “I mean, come on! Get real! There’s no reason to do that!”

In fact, those workers are far from crazy. “Bossnapping” and similar tactics have turned out to be pretty effective negotiating tools for French labor unions. Workers who have participated in past hostage-taking incidents haven’t been prosecuted, and most have won sizable concessions from employers.