MAUI (KHNL) - Hundreds of pineapple workers on Maui learned Thursday that they are out of a job.
Maui Land and Pineapple Company says it must lay off more than a quarter of its work force to save money.
The company is one of Maui's largest private employers.
It says a recently completed reorganization forced it to layoff approximately 274 workers.
The layoffs include both management and labor positions.
The company says, when possible, the cuts were made through attrition and retirement.
President and CEO David Cole says the layoffs were a difficult but necessary decision, given higher energy costs and sluggish conditions in the real estate market.
Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares calls this is a sad day.
"We are concerned for everyone affected, and our community's history of caring for each other during tough times will be very important," Tavares said in a written statement.
In response to the announcement by Maui Land and Pineapple Company, Senator Daniel K. Inouye stated, "I was most concerned to learn of Maui Land and Pine's layoff of its workforce, primarily in its pineapple operation. While it is a sign of our down-turning economy, we cannot simply throw in the towel. I will be working with the company, the ILWU, and the agriculture leadership to keep at least some pineapple cultivation on Maui, possible under a different business model. Pineapples are a part of Maui's legacy."
Aditionally, Inouye said, "I will be alerting the U.S. Department of Labor of our impending dislocated worker emergency grant needs, and will carry the state's application foreward as soon as it is completed. Now is the time for all parties to work together- government, business and labor- to aid the laid-off workers and their families."
The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations says it is sending a multi-agency rapid response team to assist employees who are losing their jobs.