Contract upheld for World Trade Center 9/11 workers

Written by CNN Staff

Congress has upheld a 20-year-old contract that ensures the 9/11 health care of more than 20,000 workers and volunteers who worked at the World Trade Center site and surrounding neighborhoods.

The contract has been contested since it was terminated in December 2015. Under the law governing the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, the health care contract was scheduled to expire this month.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services picked a new plan for people who contract pulmonary and other health conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema as a result of exposure to the toxic dust and fumes.

The American Federation of Government Employees union represents 9/11 responders, as well as survivors and first responders who worked in the Manhattan public housing district around the World Trade Center.

The union announced in June 2015 that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health had “unilaterally” awarded a contract to a private consortium of companies that owed it $1.8 billion in unpaid bills.

Last week, an administrative law judge ruled in favor of the workers and their union. Instead of revoking the award, the Department of Health and Human Services is revoking the contract for allowing the employees to challenge the award under federal law.

The agreement states that the contract will not be renewed, and the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will consider the claims of the workers — more than 80% of whom are believed to have developed cancer — who are owed money, the union said.

“The decision not to award a new contract is a victory for hardworking heroes and their families who rely on the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to survive,” AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. said in a news release.

“Ending the kangaroo court process for thousands of sick 9/11 heroes and survivors is a win-win for all of us,” Cox said.

More than $7 billion has been appropriated by Congress to help sick 9/11 workers and others from the decades-long aftermath of the attacks.

CNN has reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

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