Honoring the workforce on Labor Day

County offices will be closed Monday in celebration of a national holiday – Labor Day.

For many of us, the day off means hitting the stores to catch holiday sales, relaxing at the beach with friends and family, or getting together to watch sports. But whatever activities are planned for Monday, we must not forget Labor Day is a celebration of the achievements of our workers.

The County Council recognizes the value of workers to the county. For example, the following policies have been established by ordinance in the Countywide Policy Plan:

* Support programs that assist industries to retain and attract more local labor and facilitate the creation of jobs that offer a living wage.

* Encourage work environments that are safe, rewarding and fulfilling to employees.

Recent reports show that Maui County’s economy is growing because of the success of two labor-critical industries: tourism and construction. We’ll get updated information this Friday when First Hawaiian Bank’s 38th annual Maui County Business Economic Outlook Forum will be held at the Maui Beach Hotel.

I’m eager to hear from the experts on the details of our current and future economy. But while academic studies may predict continued success for our economy, I know a lot of people who are still struggling.

I live in the real world, where many families and businesses still have challenges making ends meet. I hear it every day from family and friends who are close to me.

A big part of the equation is the high cost of housing in Maui County. The Land Use Committee is preparing to take up measures that support affordable housing, starting with its meeting this Wednesday.

I’m optimistic there will be more housing opportunities for working families.

Our task is to support the current economic momentum with policies that help move us forward. We seek the type of growth that provides the greatest benefit to the most people – starting with those who need our help the most.

Your council is driven to take on issues that support a good quality of life for our hardworking community, including our dedicated county employees. This Labor Day, I honor all workers who are faced with challenges in life and strive for excellence in whatever they do, and I thank them for their many valuable contributions.

A hui hou.

* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council and holds the council’s Pukalani/Kula/Ulupalakua residency area seat. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.