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Kohler Workers OK Contract That Shrinks Two-Tier Gap

KOHLER, Wisc.—Production workers at the Kohler plumbing-products company here overwhelmingly ratified a contract Dec. 2 that will eliminate most of the two-tier pay differences established in 2010. The five-year deal won approval from 87% of the more than 1,000 United Auto Workers Local 833 members who voted—in contrast to 2015, when the company’s insistence on continuing to pay recent hires significantly less than workers brought on earlier provoked a 32-day strike. The agreement will give workers hired since 2010—about 40% of the plant’s 2,044 UAW members—immediate raises of $1.25 to $3.25 an hour, and $4.15 to $7.70 by the end of the contract’s term, Local 833 President Tim Tayloe told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That will shrink the gap between the tiers to less than 5% by 2023, he added. The agreement also doubles vacation time for lower-tier workers from one week to two. Upper-tier workers will get a $1,000 bonus immediately and annual raises of 50 or 55 cents an hour beginning next year. “I can honestly say I’m proud to work at Kohler and hold my head up high with what this contract did,” Tayloe said. Read more

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