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Labor Day and the Anniversary of 9/11

September 9, 2022 | Michael Barasch

As we celebrate Labor Day and honor the anniversary of 9/11, we should remember that the story of the 9/11 community has been defined by the contributions of labor unions and their members.

There were the first responders who, arriving within seconds of the attack, risked and too often lost their lives helping thousands of people to safety.

In the weeks and months that followed, union members in every sector – from construction to transportation to education – played a crucial role in the reopening of Lower Manhattan and the start of New York City’s recovery.

Told the air near Ground Zero was safe to breathe, these workers were actually exposed to toxins that dramatically increase the risk of 68 different types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses. We now know the air was not safe to breathe.

As people who were there developed 9/11-related illnesses, union leadership and members advocated tirelessly for the entire community, resulting in the creation of two government programs: World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).

Through the health program, 9/11 responders and survivors have access to free, comprehensive medical care for the 9/11-related illnesses. 

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

If you were there, you have the right to register with the 9/11 VCF – even if you are currently healthy – and enroll in the WTC Health Program if you are diagnosed with the 9/11-related illness.

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 VCF, the exposure zone includes the area of Manhattan south of Canal Street and west of Clinton Street.

Barasch & McGarry, Lawyers for the 9/11 Community, which represents more than 30,000 members of the 9/11 community, has proudly advocated for union members for more than twenty-five years.

If you were exposed to Ground Zero toxins, you should know your health status. Don’t let a delayed diagnosis become a death sentence.
Visit or call 800-314-0683 today.

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