Tennessee Representative Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04) announced in a press release that he sent a letter to President Joe Biden regarding his executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccines for federal workers and the effects it will have on Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) employees.

In early September, Biden announced a new executive order that requires vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. The executive order also called on the Department of Labor to require all employers with over 100 workers to have them vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19.

DesJarlais’ press release reveals that some TVA employees are expressing their intent to resign or retire over Biden’s executive order mandating all federal employees be vaccinated.

DesJarlais highlights in the letter the importance of the TVA workforce and the mission-critical infrastructure they provide.

He wrote, “Take for example, the seven nuclear units TVA operates. It goes without argument that the jobs at these plants are not only critical to our infrastructure but the impact of operations being run short-staffed or with staff that is not properly trained would be disastrous. TVA nuclear facilities are already experiencing a labor shortage. If even a small percentage of the current employees at TVA nuclear plants resigned or retired, the plant operations would be unable to function.”

The Tennessee congressman requested that the following criteria be deemed compliant with the president’s executive order:

  • Positive antibody test showing prior infection of COVID-19
  • COVID-19 test every fourth day for employees who cannot prove immunity against COVID-19 through antibody testing and chose not to become fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by either: receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine; or receiving one dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

DesJarlais concluded the letter by emphasizing TVA employees are highly skilled and trained to make them unable to be replaced quickly.

“The nature of their specialized training will make these employees nearly impossible to replace, and we urge that you continue to work with TVA leadership to ensure they have options available to them to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” DesJarlais said.

Co-signers of DesJarlais’ letter include Representatives Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-03), John Rose (R-TN-06), Mark Green (R-TN-07), Michael Guest (R-MS-03), Barry Moore (R-AL-02), and Diana Harshbarger (R-TN-01).

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Tennessee Valley Authority Workers” by Tennessee Valley Authority.