ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Engineering Association/IFPTE Local 1937 President Gay Henson, right, helps put up signs at Miller Park on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Members of the Engineering Association/IFPTE Local 1937 were protesting the announced layoffs of Tennessee Valley Authority IT workers.

President Donald Trump threw the baby out with the bathwater Monday by firing the chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority because he said the utility kept hiring foreign labor.

Trump, since he began his first presidential campaign in 2015, has insisted that American workers were getting the shaft from trade deals the country had made, from the millions of illegal immigrants who have come into the U.S. and from companies hiring too many foreign workers.

He was right in his desire to put the country's workers first, but his actions today are a severe overreaction to a problem corrected through a face-to-face meeting, negotiation or compromise.

The White House acknowledged that Trump appointee James "Skip" Thompson, the board chairman, and member Richard Howorth, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, had been fired.

Trump also said TVA CEO Jeff Lyash is making too much money — $8 million a year, he said.

Of course, $8 million is a lot of money, but all energy company chief executives are well paid, and Tennessee Valley residents should expect TVA's top officer to be paid commensurately, even if the utility is a federally owned corporation and not a private enterprise.

some text
Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Tennessee Valley Authority President Jeffrey Lyash

By all rights, TVA under Lyash and its previous chief executive, Bill Johnson, have cut costs, cut its carbon emissions, diversified its energy sources and put it on a solid footing.

Trump said the CEO should be paid no more than $500,000, an amount that will not draw the top names in the energy industry.

The president has been outspoken in his desire that TVA not outsource a good part of its information technology division, and we don't disagree, but we think firing the board chairman and a board member, and threatening to fire other board members, is not the way to go.

Some 62 information technology workers in Chattanooga and Knoxville were given 90 days' notice that their jobs were ending in June, and other jobs already have been phased out or workers transferred.

Amid the TVA board firings Monday, Trump signed an executive order forbidding federal agencies from outsourcing jobs overseas.

While "you're fired" may work in Trump businesses and reality TV shows, we believe more skillful negotiations than sudden board member dismissals are needed to achieve better results for the American worker.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT