At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.

TVA reverses course on outsourcing tech jobs

KNOXVILLE – The union representing information technology workers at the Tennessee Valley Authority applauded 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 (EA).  “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.”

TVA management announced today that all previous layoffs of EA-represented IT workers have been rescinded and planned future layoffs have been cancelled.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 — with access to mission-critical information about TVA power plants and the U.S. electrical grid — were to be contracted out to Capgemini (based in France), CGI (based in Canada) and Accenture (based in Ireland).  

The utility reversed course after President Trump replaced the chair of the TVA board of directors earlier this week. 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. 

“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.”

Go to top