Thousands of contract workers involved in search-and-rescue and rebuilding and working at other jobs in Lower Manhattan or parts of Brooklyn on or after 9/11 are eligible for free health care or compensation – but are still unaware of their rights.
These contractors – sometimes known as 1099, per diem, or gig employees – worked for agencies such as the Port Authority and the MTA, major construction firms that completed work at or near the World Trade Center site, and other companies in Lower Manhattan.
At the time, government officials told contract workers and others who were there that the air was safe to breathe.
But it wasn’t.
Anyone who was there, now has a dramatically higher risk of developing 68 types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses.
Unlike other workers at Ground Zero and elsewhere in Lower Manhattan who learned about the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) from their labor union or company, many contractors have never been told about the resources available to them and the entire 9/11 community.
Even today, more than two decades after 9/11, less than one in five of potential 9/11 VCF claimants have filed for an award. And while most first responders are enrolled in the 9/11 WTC Health Program, just 34,000 of the non-responders, the hundreds of thousands of civilian survivors who lived, worked or studied in the exposure zone, are enrolled in that program.
For contract workers – who have not been provided with information about these programs – registration and enrollment numbers are almost certainly much lower.
The health program provides free, comprehensive medical care to 9/11 victims for their 9/11-related illnesses. The fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.
The victim fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.
We have a shared responsibility to inform contract workers who were in Lower Manhattan about their right to free health care and compensation, and help them demonstrate “proof of presence” in the exposure zones for the WTC Health Program and the 9/11 VCF.
If you were there, you have the right to register with the 9/11 VCF – even if currently healthy – and enroll in the WTC Health Program if you are diagnosed with the 9/11-related illness.
The continuing challenge of COVID-19, which presents additional risks for people with 9/11-related illnesses – offers another reason to explore your eligibility. The 9/11 community, due to many people’s compromised immune systems, is even more vulnerable to COVID-19.
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.
Visit www.911unions.com or call 800-314-0683 today.