CARBONDALE — Service workers rallied Monday outside U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s Carbondale office calling on the senator to make job creation and strengthening the economy his first priority.

About a dozen home care workers, child care providers and working families from the Service Employees International Union also called on Durbin, and all of Congress, not to cut social safety net programs like Medicaid and Medicare that support low income families, seniors and children.

Union Member Valerie Thomas said members rallied because they wanted Durbin to keep his promise to protect working class families and not compromise on cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Thomas said cuts to the program would destroy millions of jobs and hurt children, seniors and people with disabilities.

“We want him to know the best way to reduce the deficit is create jobs and end tax breaks for the rich,” said Thomas.

Takia Yates, internal organizer with the SEIU, said union members need their jobs, and the vital service programs their members provide cannot sustain cuts.

Durbin Spokeswoman Christina Angarola said the senator supports making the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes, closing tax loopholes and carve outs for Wall Street and corporations. Angarola said Durbin has repeatedly urged House Speaker John Boehner to call a vote on a bi-partisan Senate bill that would protect middle class tax cuts and prevent the nation from going over the fiscal cliff.

“Sen. Durbin has spent his career protecting the safety net for seniors and low-income families,” she said. “He will not allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable among us.”

A report by the AFL-CIO says more than 2 million Illinoisans receive monthly Social Security checks, including more than 274,000 workers with disabilities and about 160,000 children. About 1.7 million Illinoisans receive health care through Medicare, and about 2.7 million receive it through Medicaid. Some 1.4 million children and 209,000 seniors receive Medicaid health coverage.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a 5 percent cut in federal Medicaid funding to states would result in about 146,000 Illinois health care workers losing their jobs within five years. The 5 percent cut would also reduce Illinois Medicaid by $27.8 billion in the next decade.

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