March 24, 2016

Maui Sugar Workers To Receive Federal Job Training, Placement & Income Assistance

Decision Comes One Week After Senator Hirono Urges Labor Secretary Perez To Quickly Approve Request

Senator Mazie K. Hirono hailed U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez’s decision to approve the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 142’s request for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Alternative TAA for Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company workers displaced by the cessation of sugar production.

“As nearly 700 HC&S employees complete Hawaii’s final sugar harvest and consider their next steps, they now have access to federal funding for employment placement assistance, income and health care support, and other job retraining and education programs through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program,” said Senator Hirono. “We must continue to coordinate our efforts to ensure HC&S employees and their families’ needs are met during this time of transition. I thank Secretary Perez for his immediate attention in approving ILWU Local 142’s TAA petition.”

“ILWU has stood up for Hawaii’s sugar workers since the 1940s and we will continue to support our members and their families as HC&S ceases sugar operations,” said Donna Domingo, president of ILWU Local 142. “We are pursuing all avenues of assistance to find new opportunities for HC&S employees, including through the federal TAA program. I thank Secretary Perez for granting our petition, and Senator Hirono for her support throughout this effort.”

“We are grateful to our Hawaii senators for reaching out to Secretary Perez, making this opportunity available to our employees, and successfully urging the prompt approval of the TAA request,” said Christopher J. Benjamin, A&B president and chief executive officer, who ran HC&S as its general manager from 2009 to 2011. “Our responsibility to our HC&S employees will not end with the cessation of sugar production, and we remain committed to working closely with the ILWU, Senator Hirono, our entire Hawaii delegation, and state and county officials to ensure that we are doing everything we can to assist them.”

Last week, Senator Hirono wrote to Secretary Perez to emphasize the impact that the cessation of sugar production will have on Maui County. The closing of sugar production will mean the eventual laying off of 675 workers on Maui by the end of the year. TAA includes training, job search assistance, and other resources for workers who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade. Each application for TAA must be approved by the Secretary of Labor before workers can access this program. Click here to learn more about the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program.