Saturday, October 27, 2001

Waimanalo Dairy deal goes sour

By Erika Engle

Negotiations to transfer Meadow Gold Dairies' Waiman-alo operations and property to the University of Hawaii have ended with no deal.

A joint statement released yesterday said, "Both Glenn Muranaka, president and general manager of Meadow Gold Dairies Hawaii; and Andrew Hashimoto, dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, expressed their disappointment that it was not possible for Meadow Gold and CTAHR to come to mutually agreeable terms."

University of Hawaii legal counsel indicated that "there were issues arising from the physical condition of certain features of Meadow Gold operations and there were related environmental issues," according to CTAHR Public Information Officer Jody Moore.

In late August, the company notified the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations of its intention to close the Waimanalo dairy farm on or before Dec. 31. Under the plan, 19 of the employees would be subject to terms of the company's contract with Local 996 of the Teamsters Union, while seven salaried employees would be offered severance. Union Secretary-Treasurer Ron Kozuma said then the union was helping members sort out their options.

At that time the possible transfer was under negotiation but would not necessarily have resulted in the retention of Meadow Gold employees.

The proposed deal would also have included many dairy cows. The college, which operates animal science and agricultural research programs adjacent to the facility, would have sold milk to the company to help offset expenses.

The fate of the approximately 1,000 cows at the facility is unknown, as Meadow Gold officials were unavailable.

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