Linda Mason is the Legislative Political Organizer for AFGE District 2, which represents federal employees in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Here she recalls her experience on September 11, 2001.
When we put the key in the door to open the 2nd District Office on the morning of September 11, 2001, the phone was ringing. It was the president of one of AFGE’s Locals in the World Trade Center who was calling to tell us that a plane had just hit his building and that everyone was leaving as swiftly as possible. AFGE had several Locals housed in the World Trade Center complex. Thankfully, all of our members escaped alive and well. Nonetheless, the attack on their work site left a very strong impression on them for many years. Everyone was in deep panic. The World Trade Center complex was located in an area where there are many federal office buildings. AFGE members who were not based in the WTC itself experienced the horror of the attack because they could see the planes striking the buildings from their workplace. A few AFGE members went into such deep shock that they disappeared for many days. No one could find them. Thankfully, they were not reprimanded because their agency understood that they could not emotionally handle what they had witnessed. So, my memories of September 11th are filled with the worries that I and everyone felt about the safety of our Locals and members. They are also filled with the sadness which comes from the loss of such a magnificent building complex which housed a hotel that we had used for a New York City metro in past years and a wonderful restaurant on the top floor from which one could see the whole of Manhattan and surrounding boroughs. It took at least a year before many of our members began to lose their fear of going to work. Some would cry every day before they entered their workplace in fear that another attack could happen at any time. It was a terrible experience but we all know the expression, “time heals.” I thank God that every known AFGE member survived and eventually found their peace. Some work at home now, but most still report to a lower-Manhattan federal office building for work.