Task force created to help sugar plantation employees - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Task force created to help sugar plantation employees

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa announced on Tuesday, in conjunction with Alexander & Baldwin (A&B), the creation of a task force to assist Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) employees who will be displaced as the plantation ceases its sugar operations and transitions to a diversified agriculture model.  

Members for this "Sugar Operators Work Assistance Task Force" will be appointed within the next month. Arakawa assigned to Managing Director Keith Regan to head up and coordinate task force efforts. 

"We look forward to collaborating closely with A&B, our government partners, union leaders and the non-profit community to do everything we can to help these important members of our community to transition into new pursuits," Mayor Arakawa said. "This is the Maui way-the community pulling together to help our fellow Maui residents navigate the challenging times ahead." 

Layoffs for HC&S employees will begin in March. Half of the 675 employees will be retained through the end of the final sugar harvest at the end of the year.

The task force will bring together representatives from federal, state and county governments and the private sector to help identify resources to assist the employees with their transition, including sourcing job opportunities, training programs, educational opportunities, financial counseling, employment counseling and placement services. 

Private sector participation is expected to include representatives of A&B, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the non-profit community. 

"People have already been reaching out to us and that's a good thing," said Regan. "As the mayor said, this is a community based effort to help our fellow residents. Whether it's jobs, training, benefits, grant assistance, we need to find whatever we can to ease the impact this is going to have on families and this economy." 

The task force will support the work of the transition coordinators whom A&B is providing to work one-on-one with displaced HC&S employees to help them transition to alternative employment, or retirement, as appropriate, and to access training or education support. 

"We pledge our wholehearted support to this public-private partnership and will actively contribute our time and resources to this effort," said Chris Benjamin, president and chief executive officer of A&B. "We believe this task force will be a crucial resource to our transition coordinators who will be working directly with our employees to help them pursue new endeavors." 

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