Local Pineapple Company Could Temporarily Save Plantation

Pedro Trinidad
Pedro Trinidad
Sionita Trinidad
Sionita Trinidad

(KHNL)- Bulldozers destroyed rows of pineapple in Kunia Saturday, marking the beginning of the end of the Del Monte plantation.

But another local pineapple company is offering to help save the crops, and many of the 550 workers who are losing their jobs.

Maui Pineapple says because of the abruptness of Del Monte's announcement, it wants to at least provide a transition for the land and workers.

Pedro and Sionita Trinidad worked at Del Monte for more than half their lives.

Pedro for 40-years. Sionita for 34.

"I no go work last night," said Sionita Trinidad, after hearing the news of Del Monte's closure. "I no can walk cause my knees are shaking."

Pedro Trinidad is one of the lucky ones because he retired just before the plantation closed.

"I feel sad because of the next generation," said Pedro Trinidad. "If possible, I like somebody take over this plantation.

Even as the remaining crops are destroyed, that could happen. Maui Pineapple says it is ready to step in and salvage the final harvest.

"To assisting the workers in some way, but also to maintain the proper stewardship of that agricultural land area," said Brian Nishida, president and CEO of Maui Pineapple.

"I hope that if they come over here they plant their own and we can work," said Sionita Trinidad.

"If anyone is willing to make that a reality, we're ready to go," said Nishida.

He says he hasn't talked to Del Monte, the workers union, or the landowner about that possibility. But the offer is giving workers hope that they can keep working, and keep their homes.

"My kids no like move back to Molokai, and it's too expensive to rent," said Sionita Trinidad.

"We gonna miss this place, if we don't have any choice," said Pedro Trinidad.

Maui Pineapple salvaged Del Monte's last crop at the Poamoho fields in 2004. The company said it contracted a portion of those workers to finish the harvest.

It's not known how many of the 550 workers at the Kunia plantation could get temporary jobs if the deal goes through.