The Tennessee Valley Authority informed employees on Aug. 20 that it is canceling its outsourced labor contracts after President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Aug. 3 mandating that all of TVA’s work be done by American TVA employees.
TVA Chief Financial Officer John Thomas emailed all employees, telling them that the firings have been rescinded and that all affected employees have the opportunity to return to their positions. These employees are being given 21 days to consider their options.
“We want to make sure that employees have sufficient time to make the right decision for themselves and their families,” Thomas said.
Thomas said that TVA has talked with its Engineering Association about plans to reskill its employees and work to reintegrate.
“We are pleased to welcome employees back, and look forward to working together to rebuild the IT organization and restore our relationships,” Thomas said. “Together, we will work through the transition. TVA is committed to our employees, and we will make our IT organization the best that it can be.”
The decision comes after members of TVA met with President Trump in early August, which resulted in the firings of two board members, including the Chairman.
A local TVA employee, who wished to not be named for protection of their employment, said Engineering Association President Gay Henson and a small group of employees managed to get the president’s attention and bring the issue to a head.
According to the Washington Post, Trump threatened to fire more board members if changes were not made. TVA’s contracts prior to the decision specified for all work to be done on U.S. soil. However, it was never specified that work could not be outsourced to foreign workers. Trump claimed that the TVA was “unfairly replacing American workers with low-cost foreign labor.”
According to the Washington Post, Trump said that the TVA was threatening the loss of over 200 highly skilled American jobs. Now that the mandate has been put in place, TVA will be bringing back just over 100 American workers to their original positions.
The employee said that several employees were afraid to speak up against TVA.
“There was a depressing and likely very valid fear among TVA IT employees that if they spoke up against this plan, they would most certainly be targeted for outsourcing – even if they weren’t already,” the employee said.
The employee said that TVA allegedly pretended that the decision to outsource was a joint decision made by IT leadership and fellow workers.
“That was tantamount to a lie,” the employee said. “But, it looked good in print.”
According to an article from the New York Post, union workers in New York are asking Trump to mandate the TVA to prevent more layoffs by building six electricity generators in the U.S. instead of moving some overseas. TVA was looking to receive three generators from General Electric. However, since GE has made plans to build three additional generators in Poland, thereby outsourcing labor outside of the U.S., this may not happen.