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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

9/11 remembered

Never forget

21 years later


District Council 37 commemorates the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Flight 93, and the Pentagon that killed 2,977 civilians.

“DC 37 members responded in our nation’s darkest hour and continue to play an integral part of New York City’s recovery and rebuilding after 9/11,” said Executive Director Henry Garrido.

Among the first to respond to help thousands of people trapped in the Twin Towers were Local 2507 FDNY paramedics and EMTs and Local 3621 EMS supervisors. New York Police Department 911 emergency technicians and dispatchers from Local 1549 answered thousands of calls from eyewitnesses and trapped office workers. They summoned the FDNY and NYPD that rushed into the World Trade Center buildings and helped many escape. Local 983 Urban Parks Rangers evacuated people from Battery City Park onto ferries.

Within three hours, both Towers collapsed and the world changed forever.

Among the dead were DC 37 members Rev. Mychal Judge, Chaplain, Local 299; Paramedic Carlos Lillo, Local 2507; EMS Lieutenant Ricardo Quinn, Local 3621; and Chet Louie, a Local 2021 OTB Betting Clerk, who also worked at Cantor Fitzgerald in the North Tower.

With no protective equipment, DC 37’s unsung heroes offered steady aid and relief. City employees in DC Blue Collar locals worked on the burning pile at Ground Zero. The site’s acrid stench hung in the air for several years. Local 372 school kitchen workers prepared meals at nearby Stuyvesant High School, feeding hundreds of WTC recovery workers and volunteers.

Dennis Sullivan, retired former director of Research and Negotiations, safely evacuated staff from union headquarters on Barclay Street. The building became an operations center for local and federal authorities. Local 1320 President Jim Tucciarelli (retired) and Blue Collar Division leaders Jose Sierra (retired) and David Catala (retired) helped the city run its massive recovery and clean-up of the site. Bucket by bucket, blue collar local members transported truckloads of debris to Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island.

NYPD criminalists in Civil Technical Guild Local 375 isolated DNA to identify victims’ remains. Local 375’s corps of civil engineers worked to ensure the Hudson River would not flood Ground Zero. They rebuilt damaged subway stations in the area.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani ordered public employees back to work soon after the terrorist attacks, although lower Manhattan had no electricity. To keep city agencies functioning, hundreds of municipal employees climbed the dark, ash-filled staircases of downtown worksites by flashlight to gather files or meet in contaminated conference rooms.

For a long time, these DC 37 members were not considered 9/11 first responders; that distinction was limited to police and firefighters who bravely responded.However, the union recognizes that thousands of members worked on the frontlines at Ground Zero. The unionized municipal workforce kept the city’s vital services running. They helped rescue people and pets; they carried out corpses and human remains from the 70-foot deep pit where the Towers once stood. They directed traffic, towed crushed vehicles, cleared rubble, and washed away the ash that blanketed Manhattan streets and tunnels like snow.

DC 37 leaders Lillian Roberts and Safety and Health Director Lee Clark (both now retired) fought for the Zadroga Health and Compensation Act of 2010 that created the WTC Health Program. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and activist Jon Stewart fought to extend the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act for free health monitoring.

“We will never forget 9/11,” Garrido said. “Thousands of innocent people paid the ultimate price that day. We remember the massive effort and dedication DC 37 members showed our city and our nation. We’ve come very far. The Freedom Tower stands as a beacon symbolizing our hope, strength, and resilience. Sept. 11 is a special day of honor and remembrance.”