There were thousands of people working at courthouses in Lower Manhattan on and after 9/11, all of whom were exposed to Ground Zero toxins which increases their risk of developing 68 types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses that have been scientifically linked to the 9/11 toxins.
Many of these workers were union members, including clerks and other administrative staff, court reporters, security personnel, and New York City Department of Correction officers transporting criminal defendants to and from court dates.
The contributions of these union court workers under extremely difficult circumstances were crucial to the continuation of trials, agency hearings and, indeed, the legal process itself.
These workers returned to their duties after the federal government claimed the air near Ground Zero was safe to breathe. We now know it wasn’t.
In the more than twenty years since 9/11 many of the people who were there have died or been diagnosed with cancer or severe respiratory illness.
Thankfully, Congress did the right thing. With a coalition of labor unions and 9/11 advocacy groups, union court workers persuaded the federal government to create the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
The health program provides free, comprehensive medical care for 9/11-related illnesses. The fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.
But many Lower Manhattan court workers who are eligible have not yet enrolled in the WTC Health Program or registered with the 9/11 VCF.
We have a duty to inform them about their right to access health care and compensation.
If you were in Lower Manhattan on 9/11 or during the eight following months, you are eligible to enroll – 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.