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Victim Compensation FundZadroga ActWTC Health Program

D.C. 37 Members Eligible for 9/11 Benefits

April 18, 2023 | Michael Barasch

Tens of thousands of union workers – many of them members of D.C. 37 – helped evacuate Lower Manhattan after 9/11. 

NY Social Service members from Local 371, NYC Board of Education members from Local 372, NYC Construction Laborers from Local 376, NYC Motor Vehicle Operators from Local 983, and Court Employees (Local 1070) participated in the clean-up operations and/or returned to their offices after the attacks when the E.P.A. assured workers that the air was “safe to breathe.” It wasn’t.

These workers’ contributions to the recovery of New York City’s government and economy were enormous; keeping the city’s schools, businesses, social services, and other agencies operational for its more than eight million people.

But 9/11 didn’t end on 9/11. 

The 9/11 toxic air contained cement dust and particles, asbestos, jetfuel, and many other known carcinogens.

As a result, responders and non-responders who were working, living, or studying in Lower Manhattan on 9/11 or until May 31, 2002 have a dramatically higher risk of developing 69 different types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses, all of which have been scientifically linked to the WTC toxins. In fact, more people have died of 9/11 related illnesses than the near 3,000 people who died on 9/11.

In the years since 9/11, D.C. 37 members and leadership have been a crucial part of the campaign to secure health care and compensation for both first responders and non-first responders with 9/11-related health conditions.

Their efforts resulted in the enactment – and later permanent expansion – of the Zadroga Act.

The act created the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), providing 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.

For the WTC Health Program, the exposure zone includes all of Manhattan below Houston Street and parts of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO in Brooklyn.

For the 9/11 Victim Fund, the exposure zone includes the area of Manhattan south of Canal Street and west of Clinton Street, the Fresh Kills landfill, and the garages and barges where WTC debris and equipment were brought and transported. 

Despite the fact that non-first responders were exposed to the same toxins as first responders, less than 10% of eligible non-responders have registered with the WTC Health Program and the 9/11 VCF. Conversely, over 80% of responders have enrolled.

D.C. 37 members who have contributed tirelessly to their community need to know that they are entitled to the same benefits as NYC firefighters and cops. 

If you were in Lower Manhattan on 9/11 or any part of the 8 months that followed, you are eligible to register with the free health program and the 9/11 compensation fund – even if you are currently healthy. Registering now protects your right to file a claim in the future.

If you were there and develop any of the Ground Zero-related respiratory illnesses or 68 cancers, you are eligible – regardless of family history or any other factor.

Even if your parents, grandparents, and other family members all had the same type of cancer or respiratory illness, you are eligible.

And, if you or a loved one passes away, your family is entitled to these benefits.

Barasch & McGarry, Lawyers for the 9/11 Community, which represents more than 35,000 members of the 9/11 community, has proudly advocated for union members for more than twenty-five years. 

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

[Photo Courtesy of Local 983].

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