May 31, 2022 will mark the twentieth anniversary of the end of the cleanup at the World Trade Center site.
Ground Zero burned for more than eight months after 9/11, as more than 100,000 union responders conducted search-and-rescue and recovery operations, starting New York City on the difficult and heroic path to recovery.
These responders’ efforts were tireless, continuing around the clock, as workers located victims and removed millions of tons of debris from the collapse of the World Trade Center.
These union members demonstrated extraordinary courage, and a commitment to rebuilding from the worst terrorist attack in American history.
The burning debris at Ground Zero exposed workers to harmful toxins, increasing their risk of developing 68 types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses – even as government officials claimed the air was safe to breathe.
In the more than two decades since 9/11, Ground Zero responders and their unions together have advocated to create and extend the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
These programs offer free, comprehensive medical care for 9/11-related illnesses and tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.
Yet even as we approach the anniversary of cleanup operations ending, many union members who were there have not yet enrolled in the WTC Health Program or registered with the 9/11 VCF.
It is our duty to spread the word about their right to access health care and compensation.
If you were in Lower Manhattan on 9/11 or during the eight months that followed, you are eligible to register with the 9/11 VCF – even if you are currently healthy – and enroll in the WTC Health Program if you develop cancer or respiratory illness from exposure to Ground Zero toxins.
Barasch & McGarry, Lawyers for the 9/11 Community, which represents 30,000 members of the 9/11 community, has proudly advocated for union members for more than twenty-five years.