September 17, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared at the United Federation of Teachers on Tuesday evening to commemorate the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 and help raise awareness of the Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act’s impending expiration in 2016, unless Congress acts.
She was invited by the New York State AFL-CIO to speak at the event that was organized by 911 Health Watch, which was founded by several public and private sector unions to monitor any money being raised go towards the health care of their members who are enduring long-term health problems after participating in the recovery and clean up at the World Trade Center site after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
In the accompanying video, we asked Richard Alles, legislative director for the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and a 911 Health Watch executive board member, how much money has been disbursed to his members and other uniformed force union members.
“We’re up to about 1,200 claims that have been received. We have 30,000 members registered. Two-thirds of them have more than one illness. In the Fire Department alone we have 800 members that are suffering serious illness. Yesterday we lost our 82nd member post-9/11. In the police department they have over 500 members that are serious ill, and two weeks ago they buried their 63rd member post-9/11.
He warned that without the renewal of the federal legislation—the Zadroga Health & Compensation Act—how are members going to pay for their long-term health care costs.
“The legislation expires in two years; we’re starting now and that’s what tonight is all about with Hillary Clinton being here to fight for the legislation’s extension,” Alles said.
Ms. Clinton opened her remarks by praising organized labor in New York City, saying it was her principal ally as she began the process as a former New York Senator to win legislation in Congress to pay for long-term healthcare costs for 9/11 recovery workers.
She then warned that all that work that led up to President Barack Obama signing the Zadroga Act in 2011 would be in jeopardy.
“All this work is at risk unless Congress acts because the legislation expires in 2016. The price of passage was a so-called sunset clause, and it will come due. So it’s absolutely crucial that we muster the same passion and pressure to extend the law that helped pass it in the first place,” said Clinton.