Leveraging power resources for a decent minimum wage

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter argues that different combinations of unions’ power resources, which vary among countries and over time, influence the uplifting and sustaining of a statutory minimum wage at a decent level. It develops an analytical framework to investigate how trade unions influence the minimum wage and applies this to four high-income countries – France, Germany, the UK, and the United States. The comparative evidence demonstrates that complex interactions among combinations of power resources shape the process and outcomes of minimum wage fixing, confirming the utility of the power resources framework. Further, they highlight the specific role of ideational power resources in diffusing norms around decent or living wages, and the importance of broad coalitions of social actors interested in rooting out wage exploitation. The framework also highlights contradictory challenges facing unions. In particular, while unions may enjoy success in uprating minimum wages, there is limited evidence that this converts into a strengthening of associational power resources. Also, potential complementarities between decent levels of minimum wages and collective bargaining success reflect gains in institutional power resources, but these can also be undermined in situations where the institutional legitimacy of minimum wages predominates the political landscape and weakens the capacities for broader solidaristic actions on pay.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorkers, Power and Society
Subtitle of host publicationPower Resource Theory in Contemporary Capitalism
EditorsJens Arnholtz, Bjarke Refslund
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781003431022
ISBN (Print)9781032547862, 9781032555072
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Mar 2024

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Employment Relations


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