Mitsubishi Workers have not been taking great advantage of education workshops on workforce issues since layoffs of about a thousand workers at the plant in Normal last year. But, Ralph Timan, who for nine years was president of the UAW local representing workers, thinks more would jump on re-training for specific skills needed by new, start-up Rivian to produce an electric vehicle with self-driving capability, if the company buys the now-closed Mitsubishi plant.
Timan has been attending Heartland Community College to learn medical equipment systems and hopes to complete his associate's degree this spring. He won't be among those considering Rivian for employment. "There are others that will and want to and we hopefully they will get that opportunity and that Rivian will be very successful and carry on for many years to come here in the Bloomington-Normal area," he said. His comments followed a meeting in which Normal council members unanimously approved an incentive package that ties a $1 million dollar grant and tax rebates to a minimum 500 jobs and $40.5 million worth of investment in the plant.
Michigan-based Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe was asked about whether the workforce would be unionized. He said the automaker would feel out the community when it's ready to start hiring. Timan hopes the company announces early the kind of skills it will need from the workforce. He said, "It may make some people re-think what kind of training their doing if there's going to be a specific need for something [skills] in the assembly of this product which is going to be an electric, bonafide vehicle."