One of the more significant issues shaping the governor’s race and rattling the state legislature is a possible minimum wage hike for the Illinois workforce. Raising the minimum wage is a key centerpiece of Gov. Pat Quinn’s re-election effort, pushing to raise the hourly rate from $8.25 to $10.

Merits and pitfalls of such legislation aside, including the potential for employers to scale back the number of jobs they can offer, readers should know that this debate is not taking place by pure happenstance. It is just one chapter in a nationwide minimum wage campaign orchestrated by the Service Employees International Union and its big labor brethren.

To understand the unions’ fixation on the issue, one must first understand that they are motivated to reverse shrinking membership numbers. With fewer members comes fewer financial resources and ultimately influence. To buck this trend, big labor has set its sights on one of the few remaining sectors traditionally outside of union influence, the food services industry.

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