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2-Tiered Wages Under Fire: Workers Challenge Unequal Pay For Equal Work

For years after the Great Recession, employers were reluctant to boost wages. Now a tight labor market is giving workers the leverage they need to demand a larger slice of the nation's economic pie.
Courtney Hering, who is getting married next year, is planning a slightly more lavish wedding reception. After seven years at Kohler, she finally feels like she has found a professional home. Source: Sara Stathas for NPR

When Courtney Hering started working at Kohler Co. seven years ago, she was continuing a long family tradition.

"My mother, she's been here 39 years," she says. "My dad worked here for 14 years. And my grandfather on my dad's side, he worked here as well."

Best known for its bathtubs and kitchen fixtures, Kohler has been turning out solid products and solid jobs near the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin for nearly 150 years. Hering joined the company after a stint in the Marine Corps in North Carolina. She got a job in Kohler's distribution center, moving finished faucets and unfinished brass. Her starting pay was about $11.50 an hour.

It was only after she'd been

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