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Production at plants are back to prior levels, says Goodyear

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Production at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plants that were under strike during the last few months of 2006 have returned to pre-strike levels, Goodyear officials told investors earlier today, Feb. 16, during a conference call to discuss the company's fourth quarter and full year 2006 results.

Goodyear posted sales gains for the fourth quarter and full year but also experienced losses due to the strike.

Had it not been for the labor disruption, the Akron, Ohio-based tiremaker's net income "would have been exceedingly positive," Richard Kramer, Goodyear's executive vice president and chief financial officer, told investors.

During the call, Goodyear Chairman and CEO Bob Keegan credited Goodyear dealers with helping the company weather the strike.

"They were very instrumental in sustaining Goodyear... never before did we need to be aligned fully with our dealer network."

Keegan said that Goodyear's new labor contract with the United Steelworkers will produce savings that "are largely incremental."

Specifically, savings will come from "better productivity and the elimination of health care costs" for retirees thanks to the company's newly instituted VEBA trust.

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