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Building Workers Kept the Lights on in Lower Manhattan After 9/11

April 12, 2022 | Michael Barasch

Among the nearly half a million people who were in Lower Manhattan on and after 9/11, door attendants and building maintenance staff played a crucial role in providing security for people living and working in the neighborhood.

These workers – most of them represented by labor unions – contributed enormously to the recovery of New York City.

Yet even as door attendants and maintenance workers protected others, the federal government failed to protect them.

At the time, EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman claimed that the air near Ground Zero was safe to breathe.

But it wasn’t. And today – as with first responders and other survivors – door attendants and maintenance workers who were there were exposed to Ground Zero toxins.

The toxins increase the risk of developing 68 different types of cancer linked to Ground Zero by NIOSH, including skin, prostate, breast, and lung cancers and many respiratory illnesses.

After years of advocacy organized by union leadership and members, Congress created the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).

The health program offers free, comprehensive medical care for 9/11-related illnesses, including mental health.

The compensation fund provides tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.

Only about 8% of eligible 9/11 survivors (non-responders) have registered with the WTC Health Program and the 9/11 VCF. We need to get the word out.

If you were in Lower Manhattan on 9/11 or in the eight months that followed, you are eligible to register with the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund – even if you are currently healthy.

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. Visit or call 800-314-0683 today.

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