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Maui’s last sugar plantation workers can get federal help


    Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co. employees who lose their jobs will be able to get money through a federal program to help replace lost wages, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, announced today.

Maui workers left without a job when the state’s last sugar plantation closes this year will be able to get financial help.

Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co. employees who lose their jobs will be able to get money through a federal program to help replace lost wages, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz announced today.

About 675 Maui residents work for Hawaii’s last sugar plantation, which plans to end sugar operations by the end of 2016. Under the federal program, workers could receive up to $2,000 a month for a year while they’re retrained for a new job. That’s in addition to state benefits and job training.

“This is good news for the workers and for Maui,” said Schatz, adding that the funding will also help pay for tuition, books and transportation to learn a new job.

The federal money comes from the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helps U.S. workers who have lost their jobs because of the negative effects of foreign trade. Maui sugar plantation workers are eligible for the program because the U.S. International Trade Commission said that dumping sugar from Mexico into U.S. markets hurt the U.S.’ sugar industry.

Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co., a division of Alexander & Baldwin, was named as one of the businesses that were harmed, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Stanley Kuriyama, executive chairman of Alexander & Baldwin, said recently that the company expects a $30 million operating loss in its agricultural business for 2015.

The company has been growing sugar for over 140 years, but it plans to switch gears and pursue diversified agriculture for its 36,000 acres currently in use. The company plans to split the land up into smaller farms to be used to grow food, energy crops and grazing land for cattle.

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  • ‘Maui workers left without a job will be able to get financial help.’
    First the sugar companies imported third world cheap laborers to make profits, now they do not need them anymore. Logic would be the sugar companies are on the hook or to send them back . But no! The tax payer has to support them . In the end they are just swelling the population contributing to poverty and increasing the problems Hawaii faces.

    • Have mixed emotions about your last sentence. The immigrants were recruited and brought to Hawaii to work in the cane and pineapple fields since the local labor market could not find locals willing to work in the fields. Immigrants welcomed the opportunity for a guaranteed job and emigrated, some with a desire to return after acquiring a nest egg. However for some personal status and intervening events caused them to forsake their original desires. Thus the dilemma, permanent residency and loss of job. Doubt that the recruitment agreement included any provision for paying for the return of the imported workers. Yes, the contract between the company and worker was one-sided. However these hard working individuals most likely will not contribute to homeless population as their work ethics and culture resist that pathway.

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