New York City Local 246

Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, CLC

Families of Workers Who Die From Diesel Exposure Aided by State

By BOB HENNELLY,, Nov 9, 2021

Seven years ago, in a breakthrough state Workers’ Compensation case, the widow of a city Bus Maintainer was awarded death benefits because a judge found his death was caused by chronic exposure to diesel fumes.

Thanks to a law signed Oct. 29 by Governor Hochul, families who lost a spouse, parent or even grandparent to cancer under similar circumstances will have one year to file a claim.

Joseph Colangelo, president of the Local 246 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents city mechanics, said in a Nov. 8 phone interview that while he welcomed the legislation, he was concerned that there was just a one-year filing window.

“I am 40 years with Sanitation, and when I started out in 1981, when they were transitioning to diesel trucks, the garages would fill up with that blue smoke. I mean, imagine you get 18 trucks starting up,” Mr. Colangelo said. “This was way before clean diesel, and we had people come in and check the ventilation, and one of our guys who came in to check it out and when he was asked how bad it was, said ‘I wouldn’t work here.’ “


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