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Sugar Taskforce Year-End Report: Details Help for Laid Off Workers

Posted January 6, 2017, 04:58 PM HST
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Maui sugar. Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company mill. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The Sugar Operators Support Taskforce was created a year ago today (on Jan. 6, 2017) by the Mayor’s Office after Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar announced it would be shutting down sugar operations on Maui by December 2016. The sole purpose of the taskforce was to help the 675 workers who were laid off last year.

The SOST year-end report shows that the taskforce was able to help the displaced workers in a number of different ways: (1) through government grants and resources (2) employment, jobs and job fairs, (3) by providing health and human services, (4) by becoming a clearinghouse of information for workers and (5) by identifying and developing education and training programs to help secure new types of employment.

The year-end report has the taskforce’s latest numbers through Dec. 1, 2016. According to SOST:

– 124 sugar workers found other employment
– 45 sugar workers retired
– 15 workers are in training programs or attending school
– 7 workers have relocated outside of Maui
– 77 workers are still searching for new employment

The remaining 346 workers were let go after December 1, 2016 and so those numbers will be added to the report at a later date.

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“The key to the taskforce’s success was understanding that there was no one size fits all solution to this situation,” said Managing Director Keith Regan, SOST Chair.

“Some needed jobs, others opted for training and education and still others needed rental assistance or other social services during their transition time.We tried to assist as best as we could and I believe we made a difference. Much thanks goes out to everyone who worked together to assist our plantation workers; HC&S, county, state and federal officials, unions, nonprofits, community business groups and even health care providers all pitched in to help in some way. Mahalo to everyone who was involved,” said Regan.

Once the full report becomes available it can be downloaded HERE; or go to the County of Maui website and click on the “Sugar Operators Support Taskforce” tab on the left side of the page.

SOST is made up of 56 members from 28 different organizations including: Alexander & Baldwin, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office, Maui County, the State Department of Agriculture, the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Feed My Sheep, Governor David Ige’s office, the Hawaiʻi Construction Alliance, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, Hawaii Medical Service Association, ILWU Local 142, Maui Chamber of Commerce, Maui Economic Development Board, Maui Economic Opportunity, Maui Food Bank, Maui Hotel & Lodging Association, Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, Maui United Way, Senator Mazie Hirono’s office, Senator Brian Schatz’s office, Speaker of the House Joe Souki’s office, Representative Justin Woodson’s office, State Senator Roz Baker’s office, the University of Hawaii Maui College and the US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.

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