The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center 20 years ago left an indelible mark on the educators and students who were in New York City on Sept. 11 — especially those in lower Manhattan. Mixed in with the awful memories of that day are also recollections of calm teamwork as teachers led students out of school buildings and away from the burning towers.
Schools far from Ground Zero became safe havens, providing food, medication and comfort for students and staff stranded far from home. Other schools hosted students from lower Manhattan schools that could not reopen quickly. “It was amazing the way people came together and everyone functioned as one unit,” Jack Lander said at the time, when he was the chapter leader at McKee HS on Staten Island.
In support of the revitalization of the neighborhood in the aftermath of the attacks, the UFT relocated its offices from Park Avenue South and 21st Street in Gramercy Park to 52 Broadway in 2002.
Later, the UFT helped lobby for the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which passed in 2010 and was reauthorized in 2015; and the permanent authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act, which was achieved in July 2019. The union has held regular outreach meetings in lower Manhattan to make sure members know their potential eligibility for compensation and health care.
“We are trying to make sure everybody who qualifies for the World Trade Center Health Program understands their rights,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in 2018. “Ordinary people who lived and worked downtown on 9/11, who have gotten sick, often have no idea they are entitled to medical treatment and possibly compensation.”
The UFT remembers 9/11
On Sept. 11, 2001, UFT members sprang into action to protect their students in the face of fear and uncertainty. On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we remember and honor their efforts and pay tribute to the lives that were lost.