WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to require all federal agencies to complete an internal audit to prove they are not replacing qualified American workers with people from other countries.
The White House said the order will help prevent federal agencies from unfairly replacing American workers with lower-cost foreign labor.
The order was signed after Tennessee Valley Authority announced it would outsource 20% of its technology jobs to companies based in foreign countries. TVA’s action could cause more than 200 highly skilled American tech workers in Tennessee to lose their jobs to foreign workers hired on temporary work visas, according to the White House.
In response, Trump fired the chair of the TVA. He 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.
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.”
“As a federal corporation, TVA’s Board members serve at the pleasure of the President,” Hopson added.
As Trump was meeting with workers who would shortly be laid off by the authority, he was passed a note from chief of staff Mark Meadows that said Lyash had called the White House and was promising to address the labor concerns. Some of the attendees, who are set to see their last paycheck at the end of the month, teared up as Trump read the message.
Trump acknowledged that he was made aware of the issue after seeing a television ad that aired in prime time on Fox News and was produced by U.S. Tech Workers, a nonprofit that wants to limit visas given to foreign technology workers.
The group, led by Kevin Lynn, criticized the TVA for furloughing its own workers and replacing them with contractors using foreign workers with H-1B visas. The ad, Lynn said, had an “audience of one," aiming to persuade Trump to stop the TVA from outsourcing much of its information technology division.