Del Monte workers eligible for federal aid
The grant will fund retraining for the 180 laid-off employees
Del Monte Fresh Produce workers slated to be laid off Jan. 22 will be eligible for federal assistance, the U.S. Department of Labor announced yesterday.
The U.S. Department of Labor will provide a $569,230 national emergency grant to the City and County of Honolulu's Department of Community Services to assist dislocated workers.
About 180 workers were left jobless when Del Monte abruptly announced in November that it would close its Hawaii operations immediately rather than in 2008, as the company had said previously.
Following Del Monte's announcement, some 125 families who live at the company-operated Kunia Camp were also left with uncertainty over whether they will be able to keep a roof over their heads, the ILWU said.
The grant will fund new job training and development for laid-off workers as well as support for securing new careers, said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
"(Workers) affected by the closure of the Del Monte plant will receive help in securing new jobs," Chao said. "Through this $569,230 grant and the services available through the TAA program, these workers will have better opportunities to build new careers."
The grant announcement comes exactly a week after Senators Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel K. Inouye announced that laid-off Del Monte workers would qualify for the U.S. Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance programs. At the time, the state also met with affected employees to tell them about the available services.
The grant will provide much needed assistance for the former Del Monte processing plant workers, Sen. Akaka said.
"They worked hard and made important contributions to Hawaii's economy for many years, and we are pleased that this grant will help them continue to be productive members of our community," he said.
Sen. Inouye called the grant crucial to the recovery of displaced workers.
"It will help them begin a new and brighter chapter in their lives," he said.