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42 Years of Honorable Service – 9/11 Responder Honored During Retirement

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By Sara Haas Your Union
Photo credit: AFSCME District Council 37 (New York)
Photo credit: AFSCME District Council 37 (New York)

On the evening of June 26, members and colleagues gathered to honor Jim Tucciarelli, who retired after serving the people of the city of New York for more than 42 years and acting as a staunch advocate for fellow first responders who worked at Ground Zero.

Tucciarelli, president of AFSCME Local 1320, was a member of the District Council 37 Executive Board and sat on AFSCME’s Judicial Panel. He has fought tirelessly to protect the jobs and improve the lives of sewage workers whose dedicated service keeps New York’s communities safe, clean and healthy.

Over the years, he has played a key role in AFSCME organizing, political and legislative campaigns in New York and around the country.

“I have spent the greater part of my life with this union,” Tucciarelli said. “We have been through tough struggles and hardships in the past, and I believe we will survive and succeed because this institution, and the services, benefits and jobs protections that labor unions provide, are bigger than all of us.”

Jim Tucciarelli’s comments are from a video produced to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Tucciarelli volunteered his services at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In a video released on the 10th anniversary of those attacks, he said, “The adrenaline level, you didn’t know if you were working 12, 14, 16, 24 hours straight. In the beginning there was a possibility that people were still alive.”

Tucciarelli was exposed to dangerous toxins at Ground Zero and has been a persistent advocate for fellow 9/11 first responders, ensuring that they have had access to the health care that they need.

“To this day I still wear a bracelet, (for the) five of my friends that they haven’t found yet. I will continue to wear that bracelet until they find them,” he said.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders presented Tucciarelli with a proclamation to honor his service to his city, to other first responders and to AFSCME.

“Your dedication to the members of this union and to public service is an example and inspiration to us all,” the proclamation reads in part. “Thank you for your leadership and may you enjoy a long and joyous retirement.”