It’s only advisory, but a referendum to raise the minimum wage in Illinois from $8.25 to $10 per hour could pack a punch, its supporters hope. Lawmakers, who could have passed an increase on their own, instead allowed the non-binding question to go onto the Nov. 4 ballot. George Hemberger, the Downstate political coordinator for the SEIU Healthcare union, represented the Raise Illinois Coalition at a late morning news conference at a downtown cafe in Springfield.
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He says he chose the location, Cafe Moxo, because it pays its workers more than $10 already and offers health benefits, with the result of most of the staff having worked there five years or more. He does not want to hear about how employers don’t want to increase the minimum wage. “We have not seen any studies that state that people are going to lose jobs,” he said. “When the minimum wage goes up, (businesses) can’t lay people off. How are they going to run their business, right? So we’ve found that as the minimum wage goes up and money starts flowing into the community, people are spending it locally.” The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.