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PEP Oct 2014
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Public Employee Press

Remembering 9/11
Hillary backs funding of compensation law


Hillary Clinton (center) stands with members of 9/11 Health Watch, Inc., including Safety and Health Director Guille Mejia and Local 1549's Lee Clarke.

As expiration looms for the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, thousands of Ground Zero responders and survivors could see their medical aid cut off. So, organized labor must push for an extension and expansion of the law.

That was the message delivered by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sept. 16 at the 9/11 Health Watch Inc.'s 13th anniversary Commemoration and Benefit.

A New York senator at the time of the attacks, Clinton became one of the first voices to advocate for long-term care for the men and women who were involved in the recovery and clean-up at the World Trade Center site.

"Being there, you knew there would be lasting consequences for the people who survived," she said.

Clinton credited labor unions, including DC 37 and AFSCME, and labor leaders, including DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts, as her principal allies in fighting to pass legislation that created the World Trade Center Health Program and reopened the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

The law is set to expire in 2016. If that happens, the more than 65,000 responders and survivors enrolled in the health program will be left without treatment or monitoring for 9/11-related illnesses.

Once again, Clinton is looking to the labor movement to lead the way as a partner in calling for the extension of the Zadroga Act.

"It is absolutely crucial that we muster the same passion and pressure to extend the law that we helped pass in the first place," she said.

"Last week we mourned, this week we mobilize," Clinton said.

"DC 37 and AFSCME are committed to ensuring that the Zadroga Act is reauthorized so that there is no disruption of medical care and continued protection for our affected members," said DC 37 Safety and Health Director Guille Mejia.

9/11 Health Watch Inc. is an independent group formed after the passing of the Zadroga Act. The unions and other advocacy groups that fought for it now monitor the programs created under the law.

— Joseph Lopez


 
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