New York, NY – In the wake of recent cuts of up to 70% in the payments victims of the 9/11 attack receive – the Uniformed Firefighters Association has joined celebrated comedian Jon Stewart as he puts forth a new petition drive.
The petition says that, “Congress must immediately vote to support the bipartisan bill ‘Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund’ to authorize full, permanent funding for the victims and families of the 9/11 attacks.” Stewart sent out the request via MoveOn.org, and as of Monday, 2/15, it had 155,618 signatures. The goal is 300,000. The current fund is running out of money, which has caused the drastic cuts to those still suffering and those still coming forward. According to the petition, “Chronic diseases like asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and cancer continue to plague those who were exposed to the many toxins and carcinogens on 9/11 and in the weeks and months after.”
Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) President Gerard Fitzgerald told LaborPress, “We [the UFA] were down in Washington this past Monday [the 25th] with a New York delegation of Congress including Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, Peter King, and Jerry Nadler, along with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA), the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), representatives from the AFL-CIO, including Mario Cilento, who spoke, and others. We were there to introduce [the] bill to re-authorize funding for the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund. It would be very unfair for it to end. Cancers are still coming, and fast. I have a friend who [is a survivor and] was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, another with Stage 2 brain cancer. There are still so many. [The bill] would give some economic stability to them. It’s the right thing to do, so do ‘the right thing,’ as Jon Stewart said.” Regarding the petition, Fitzgerald said, “We want to get the citizens of the United States to get behind this petition.”
In a Facebook video, Stewart specifically talks about the struggles of first responders, saying, “The 9/11 first responders have had to fight every step of the way over these past 18 years. First, to get people to believe that they were really sick. Then, to get people to believe that the sicknesses were caused by 9/11…the hope is that, for the people that always answer the call for us, Congress will answer the call for them in a timely fashion.”