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As Deadline Looms, Union Advocates ‘Fight To Expand’ 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

Published Tuesday, June 4, 2019
by Naeisha Rose/
As Deadline Looms, Union Advocates ‘Fight To Expand’ 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

(NEW YORK CITY) - Union Members were out in full force late last week near the 9/11 Memorial Park in Lower Manhattan to rally in support of the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act, a piece of legislation that would extend financial benefits to survivors and First Responders who lived, worked, volunteered or went to school near Ground Zero.

The recompense would also help their family members.

While some first responders were awarded from the Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), students, educators and support staff at nearby schools have yet to see any assistance from the bill, which is due to expire on December 18th, 2020. 

Students, Teachers, Principals, Public Safety Agents, Cafeteria Workers and School Bus Operators were all back in Lower Manhattan a month after the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World  Trade Center.

Council Member Mark Levine pointed out that officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had declared it was safe to return: “They were answering the call just four weeks after 9/11.  Today, the city has not prepared an accounting of those staff and students, we don’t have a comprehensive list of who they are, and we have not communicated to them to let them know the health risks, that we understand that are very real, we have not let them know the services and support that are available to them as people who were at risk in these dangerous days following 9/11.”

If extended, the VCF will force the city to make an accounting of the people who are at risk of 9-11-related diseases, such as cancer, according to Levine. 

Mark Cannizzaro, who heads the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSSA) Local 1 AFSA, said advocating for the VCF is “personal.” 

“I ‘lost’ my cousin - Firefighter Brian Cannizzaro - across the street on 9/11,” the Union President said, as fellow CSSA Members held up green, orange and white signs. “To ‘think that there are families that are not being compensated as they should is just unconscionable.’  ‘We support this bill - this compensation fund one-hundred-percent.’”

Michael Mulgrew, the President of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), agreed that the bill should be renewed to help those who have yet to be compensated

“Something is ‘terribly wrong’ with Washington ‘to make the survivors of 9/11 scrounge for help’,” Mulgrew said. “Congress and the White House ‘need to hear the voices of those who are suffering and do what’s right - time is running out.’”

Time is, indeed, running out.

Before the bill can get through Congress it must be cost-analyzed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

And, according to U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, who is the lead sponsor of the House bill, that figure must be sent to the members of the House of Representatives before a June 11th hearing so the act can be voted on.

Maloney said she hopes to get the bill passed by early July. 

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