The strike is over
Advance Auto Parts workers at Lehigh Valley warehouse vote to ratify labor agreement.
The strike started Sept. 4, when many of the 450 workers at Advance Auto Parts’ distribution center in Weisenberg Township lined the street near the facility’s entrance. With music blaring, workers chanted and held signs, including some reading, “Advance Auto Parts Workers Deserve a Fair Contract.”
A majority of the workers believe they have one now, after they voted 265-104 this week to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with Advance Auto, the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 1310 announced Wednesday. The employees will return to their regular work schedule on Friday, the union said.
“Hundreds of AAP employees demonstrated tremendous strength over these last two weeks, and now they’re seeing the rewards,” Dennis L. Martire, LIUNA vice president and midAtlantic regional manager, said in a news release. “With support from political leaders and community advocates for a new contract, the parties achieved a compromise that is fair for both sides.”
The key to ending the strike, the union said, came Monday when Advance Auto added wage and bonus increases from its prestrike final offer, which offered 1.5% raises per year to employees reaching at least 10 years of service between 2019 and 2021. The workers’ threeyear contract, which will be signed within a couple days, specifies that all employees — regardless of employment duration — will receive a 1.5% to 2% wage increase for each year of the contract, the union said. Further, additional compensation will be available through new bonuses, including a $650 ratification bonus.
“After bargaining in good faith with the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) for nearly a year, we are pleased that our Team Members have voted to accept our contract offer,” Advance Auto said in a statement.
Negotiations between the two sides started two months after the workers voted to unionize in September 2018 in a 291-131 vote. The agreement brings to a close a labor dispute that turned bitter at times.
For example, the company last week filed a restraining order, which was signed off on by a judge and limited how the workers could picket at the distribution center. The union fired back, with one official last week calling the order, “bull----.”
A hearing on the matter was scheduled for Friday but is now canceled.
“LIUNA appreciates the company’s willingness to bridge differences and arrive at a deal that’s going to benefit workers, shareholders, and customers,” Tony Seiwell, business manager of the Laborers’ District Council of Eastern Pennsylvania, said in the release.
Advance Auto, a Fortune 500 company, operates distribution centers and more than 5,000 retail stores in North America, but it has few union locations. Less than 1% of the company’s 71,000 full- and part-time workers are represented by unions, according to its 2018 annual report.
The company’s local distribution center, on Commerce Circle in the Arcadia West Industrial Park, is one of the few unionized warehouses in the Lehigh Valley.
One of the only others is the True Value regional distribution center in Upper Macungie Township, a facility that will close by mid-March as True Value ramps up a new hub near Wilkes-Barre.
Workers at the Advance Auto Parts distribution center in Weisenberg Township demonstrate after going on strike Sept. 4.