Norris Dam spillway. A hydroelectric dam operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Shutterstock ID 4523881 By Bryan Busovicki

Workforce

Trump fires TVA chairman over foreign contractors

President Donald Trump announced the firing of the chairman and a board member of the Tennessee Valley Authority at a White House event on Aug. 3, partly as a consequence of an  IT outsourcing program that brought in three foreign-owned contractors to replace the work done by about 100 federal employees.

In June, TVA, which supplies electrical power to about 10 million customers across seven southern states, issued layoff notices to 62 workers based in Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tenn., which would take effect Sept. 1. According to TVA, 37 other workers found different jobs in the organization.

According to one of the TVA workers who spoke at the White House event, an additional round of layoffs was announced July 23, bringing the total number of jobs to be eliminated at TVA IT to more than 200.

TVA planned to outsource IT operations to three firms: CGI Federal, a subsidiary of a Canadian firm; Accenture Federal Services, whose parent company is headquartered in Ireland; and French firm Capgemini.

Trump became aware of the issue through an advertisement from the group U.S. Tech Workers that aired on Fox News. That group's head, Kevin Lynn, told Trump at the White House event that the president was the target of the ad.

"In full disclosure, Mr. President, when we sat down with the Davis Agency constructing the ad, they said, 'Who's your audience?'  And I said, 'Just one person.'"

At the event, TVA workers explained that they had been asked to train their replacements, including employees including they expected were in the United States on special work visas called H1-B visas.

"All TVA employees are U.S. based citizens. All jobs related to TVA's Information Technology department must be performed in the U.S. by individuals who may legally work in this country," TVA Public Information Officer Jim Hopson told FCW in an email.

Trump also signed an executive order Aug. 3 that orders agencies to review whether any of their contracts rely on temporary foreign labor and if that practice results in the diminution of opportunities for U.S. workers.

TVA was in the midst of an appeal process about the outsourcing plan, Hobson said, and the new executive order will factor into that review.

"The IT realignment process that initiated these conversations is not complete," Hobson said and explained that "no impacted employees will be released by the company until the process is complete and a final decision is made."

Trump has already made one new appointment to the TVA board – Charles W. Cook Jr., the chairman of Bandwidth Infrastructure Holdings, LLC.

"If the TVA does not move swiftly to reverse their decision to rehire their workers, then more board members will be removed," Trump said.

Reader comments

Thu, Aug 6, 2020

Way to go Mr. President. The TVA used to be a great organization that took care of it's property with exceptional hard working employee's. Seems their focus has changed to million dollar salaries. Please get rid of all these million dollar salary positions that oversee this utility company. Are all utility companies being run this way?

Thu, Aug 6, 2020

It will be interesting to see who the President appoints to replace these two this late in his term. The consent of the Senate is required for these actions.

Thu, Aug 6, 2020 john crowder Alabama

It will be interesting to see which of the President's acquaintances, i.e. cronies, will be nominated to succeed the former chairman.

Thu, Aug 6, 2020

Were contracts awarded or not? If not, were pre-contract costs authorized? The final decision needs to be made and termination for convenience issues in order to limit any contractor claims

Thu, Aug 6, 2020 SAM USA

There is a Federal Law already on the books that makes it Illegal to fire American workers and replace them with foreign workers. American workers should NEVER cooperate when their jobs are being eliminated and they will be replaced by workers that have been to to 'train' They should have all instead immediately gone out on Strike as their only and beast way to fight back.

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