TVA employees visit the White House in fight for their jobs

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 6:06 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Tennessee Valley Authority is under scrutiny at the White House. After the federally-owned power company announced it would outsource hundreds of information technology jobs earlier this year, the Trump administration is renewing its push to hire American through an executive order. TVA employees met with the president Monday for a signing event.

Stacy Whetzell has spent 45 years of his life as an IT operations engineer at the Tennessee Valley Authority in Georgia. Whetzell found himself Monday fighting for his job at the White House.

“I do not know what will happen,” said Whetzell.

On July 23 Whetzell found out his job was going to someone overseas as part of an outsourcing effort at the company. Hundreds of his colleagues are in the same position. They turned to the White House for support.

“There are a few of us here today who refused to back down. Who refused to bend over,” said Whetzell.

Wendy Turner, a software engineer at the TVA in Knoxville, TN says she received her notice at an awful time.

“It was during a pandemic and now I didn’t know what we were going to do. It’s just been devastating all around,” said Turner.

Turner says she is optimistic the TVA will reverse course on the firings after President Trump signed an executive order Monday that will look into TVA hiring practices. President Trump also announced the removal of the chairman of the board of TVA.

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

TVA public information officer Jim Hopson says, “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.”

At this time neither Turner nor Whetzell is sure if they are keeping their jobs. Tennessee Reps. Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) both say the TVA needs to change how it operates.

“Outsourcing jobs is not helping the TVA area with its economic vitality,” said Cohen.

“This stuff won’t be tolerated anymore,” said Burchett.

The White House says auditing of TVA and other federal agencies will begin immediately following the signing of the executive order.

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