President Trump fires TVA chairman over foreign workers

WASHINGTON D.C. (WDEF) – President Donald Trump has fired the chair of the Tennessee Valley Authority over hiring foreign workers.

The President removed Skip Thompson and another member of the board for hiring foreign workers.

We told you about the dispute with the Engineers Association Union over cutting TVA’s in-house IT department and hiring outside contractors.  Union members staged protests here in Chattanooga in June.

They claim that the contractors are using foreign workers to replace about a 200 people in our region (TVA says it is closer to 100).

President Trump on Monday said he was firing the board members to send a message to other government agencies to use American workers.

“It is the policy of the executive branch to create opportunities for United States workers to compete for jobs, including jobs created through Federal contracts.”

You can read President Trump’s Executive Order here.

He also complained about the how much money TVA is paying CEO Jeff Lyash.

Of course, TVA’s relationship with the government is complicated.

It was founded as a federal utility, and is overseen by a federally appointed board.

But the government now only pays for support services, like conservation and flood control.  The utility’s main job of providing power is now entirely privately funded, like a private company.

Senator Lamar Alexander admits the agency has made some hiring mistakes but defends the agency and their CEO salary.

“TVA may have shown poor judgment hiring foreign companies during a pandemic, but, on most counts, it does a very good job of producing large amounts of low-cost, reliable electricity. Residential electric rates are among the 25 percent lowest in the country, and industrial rates are among the lowest 10 percent. TVA’s debt is the lowest in 30 years, its pension fund is stronger and TVA leads the country in new nuclear power plants.”

“According to TVA, the annual total compensation of TVA’s CEO is in the bottom fourth of what the CEOs of other big utilities earn and is set strictly according to requirements of federal law. TVA receives no federal tax dollars.”

In a TVA release today, the agency accepts the President’s judgement, while disputing the characterizations of them hiring foreign workers.


We understand and support today’s Executive Order. We want to ensure that U.S. employees have good opportunities through our employment and supply chain practices. We look forward to working with the White House, continuing a dialogue and supporting future policies in this direction.

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’s mission of service is as relevant today as it was nearly 90 years ago when it was created…to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley to make life better. Collectively, our 10,000 employees across seven states are committed – each and every day – to improving the quality of life for the 10 million people we serve.

As a federal corporation, TVA’s Board members serve at the pleasure of the President. The Board’s by-laws allow for the Board to continue its oversight function with the loss of one or more of its members.

TVA’s mission and operations are driven by the TVA Act. This congressional statute mandates providing reliable energy at the lowest reasonable cost; managing natural resources responsibly; and promoting economic development. In its 2019 fiscal year alone, TVA reliably supplied more than 158 trillion kilowatt-hours of energy, 54% of which came from carbon-free sources; effectively managed the 653-mile Tennessee River system while preventing more than $1 billion in flood damage; and help attract or retain more than 66,000 jobs and almost $9 billion in capital investment to the Tennessee Valley.

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