Trump fires TVA chair, cites hiring of foreign workers

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with U.S. tech workers, before signing an Executive Order on hiring American workers, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with U.S. tech workers, before signing an Executive Order on hiring American workers, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Monday that he had fired the chair of the Tennessee Valley Authority, criticizing the federally owned corporation for hiring foreign workers.

Trump told reporters at the White House that he was formally removing chair Skip Thompson and another member of the board, and he threatened to remove other board members if they continued to hire foreign labor. Thompson was appointed to the post by Trump.

The TVA was created in 1933 to provide flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region that was hard hit by the Great Depression. The region covers most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky as well as small sections of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Trump also removed board member Richard Howorth, another presidential appointee.

Trump also urged the TVA board to immediately hire a new chief executive officer who “puts the interests of Americans first." According to the president, the current CEO, Jeff Lyash, earned $8 million a year.

“The new CEO must be paid no more than $500,000 a year,” said Trump, who lacks the authority to remove the CEO. “We want the TVA to take action on this immediately. ... Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

Trump said the authority was replacing many of its in-house technology workers with contractors who rely heavily on foreign workers under the H1-B visa program for highly skilled workers.

“All TVA employees are U.S. based citizens,” said authority public information officer Jim Hopson. “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.”