Bay Ridge

Gov. Cuomo signs 9/11 sick leave bill

Golden, Abbate sponsored legislation to help workers

September 14, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it is crucial for New York State to honor the courageous efforts of first responders and others who worked at the recovery effort at the World Trade Center site. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File
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Two Brooklyn lawmakers who pushed for legislation to help first responders and others suffering from Sept. 11-related illnesses said they were grateful when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed their bill into law earlier this week.

On the 16th anniversary of the devastating Sept. 11 terror attack, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill sponsored by state Sen. Marty Golden and Assemblymember Peter Abbate to provide unlimited sick leave to workers needing care for World Trade Center-related illnesses.

“This legislation will help the thousands of brave men and women who put their lives on the line to save others during the tragic events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001. The first responders who led recovery efforts on that day, and the weeks and months that followed, deserve the very best health care and assistance New York has to offer, and I commend the governor for signing this legislation as we will continue to support these heroes,” said Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn).

Abbate (D-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said it is important for New York state to do what it can to help those who sacrificed their health to work on the recovery effort at the World Trade Center site 16 years ago.

“During our darkest hour, the strongest and bravest among us rose through the destruction and pain to assist in response efforts at the World Trade Center site. These heroic men and women put all that they had on the line to help those in need and now, 16 years later, we must return that favor. As survivors of that day, many first responders have contracted critical illnesses,” Abbate said.

The bill expands sick leave benefits for public sector officers and employees who developed a health condition as a result of their work during the rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts at the World Trade Center site during the weeks and months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Under the legislation, workers would be eligible for unlimited paid leave at 100 percent of their regular salary dating back to the time of their diagnosis. 

Individuals would qualify for the benefit if they: Currently work for a municipality, public authority or state employer outside of New York City; have filed a notice of participation in the World Trade Center clean-up and recovery efforts; or have a health condition that qualifies under a previous statute.  

“On Sept. 11, 2001, the best of humanity and the worst of humanity were displayed; the worst of us flew airplanes into the Twin Towers, while the best of us rushed inside to help their brothers and sisters without a second thought,” Cuomo said at the signing ceremony on Monday. “It is critical that we honor these courageous efforts and by signing this bill into law today, we make it clear that New York stands behind the first responders in their time of need just as they stood with New York on that tragic day 16 years ago. Our message is simple: we will always have your back.” 

The legislation applies to all employees of the state, public authorities and municipalities outside of New York City who participated in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery or cleanup activities and subsequently developed a health condition, regardless of who the employee was working for on Sept. 11, 2001.

The bill signing marked an important moment for first responders, according to Lou Matarazzo, chairman of Cuomo’s 9/11 Workers Protection Task Force.

“Sept. 11, 2001 is a day forever ingrained in the lives of every New Yorker and every American. That day now only saw unimaginable devastation, but also unprecedented kindness. First responders from near and far rushed to the aid of the thousands of victims of the World Trade Center attacks to help and now today, they need our help,” Matarazzo said in a statement.

The new law “gives these heroes much-needed support and is a small token of our appreciation of the risks they took that day to help people in need,” Matarazzo added.


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