NPR

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

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min readPsychology
Poll: Americans Say We're Angrier Than A Generation Ago
The latest NPR-IBM Watson Health poll found that 29% of people said they were often angry when checking the news. Another 42% said the news sometimes made them angry.
NPR4 min readSociety
How A Former Child Bride Got A Fatwa Against Child Marriage
It happened in Senegal last week, at a conference organized by young Africans to address the issues of child marriage and female genital mutilation. Here's the story behind the fatwa.
NPR4 min readSociety
'You Don't Own Me,' A Feminist Anthem With Civil Rights Roots, Is All About Empathy
Ever since a 17-year-old Lesley Gore sang it in 1963, the coolly mutinous song has moved women to reject passive femininity. Its writers, though, say there are layers of resistance in its words.