Tupelo • The union representing information technology workers at the Tennessee Valley Authority is praising the federally owned utility’s decision to reverse the outsourcing of 200 crucial IT jobs to foreign-based firms.
TVA had previously announced that three firms based overseas would be hired to do the work of TVA professionals and that some work would be transferred to foreign nationals working at TVA under H-1B visas.
“This is certainly a win for American workers, for TVA ratepayers, and for everyone who relies on the U.S. electrical grid,” said Gay Henson, president of the Engineering Association/IFPTE Local 1937. “Our members will get their jobs back. TVA ratepayers will benefit from having skilled U.S. workers providing quality service. And the entire U.S. electrical grid will be more secure, with critical information remaining on U.S. soil.”
On Monday, President Trump criticized TVA’s original move and fired the chair of the board of directors as well as another board member. He also criticized the pay of TVA CEO Jeff Lyash.
The president also signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to document that they are not using H-1B visas – intended to allow temporary employment of workers from other countries – to permanently replace U.S. workers.
On Thursday, interim TVA Board Chair John Ryder and Lyash met with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to discuss the preservation of U.S. jobs.
“We had a positive meeting with the White House and wholeheartedly agree with the Administration’s direction on jobs,” Ryder said in a statement. “We expressed that our IT restructuring process was faulty and that we have changed direction so that we can ensure American jobs are protected.”
TVA management announced Thursday that all previous layoffs of EA-represented IT workers have been rescinded and planned future layoffs have been cancelled. Any of the workers who lost their jobs, or who found other employment after receiving a layoff notice, will be offered a chance to return to their IT jobs at TVA or another position at the utility.
“I couldn’t be prouder today of the members of our union,” said IFPTE president Paul Shearon. “By rallying to support one another and stating our case to elected officials, the press and the public, we put a spotlight on a terrible decision and got it reversed.”
“It was a violation of TVA’s mission to take these jobs out of the Tennessee Valley and it was outrageous that a federal utility would export these jobs during the pandemic and the related economic crisis while the federal government is spending trillions to keep workers employed,” he said. “However, in the end TVA management made the correct decision.”
The IT positions were to be contracted out to Capgemini (based in France), CGI (based in Canada) and Accenture (based in Ireland).
“It’s good news for now and bodes well for the future that TVA management has listened to our concerns,” said EA’s Henson. “We look forward to a reset and a new, productive relationship. Together, we’ll focus on TVA’s core mission: affordable power, job creation and economic development in the Tennessee Valley.”