AFGE members at Orlando International Airport relentlessly fought the return of airport security to the pre-9/11 era, and their enormous efforts paid off when the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) recently voted to rescind its previous controversial vote to begin the process of contracting out security at the airport.
“We are happy GOAA decided to put the safety of travelers over profit-driven private contractors by rescinding its original vote to replace federally trained TSA officers with private screeners,” said AFGE TSA Council President Hydrick Thomas.
Orlando is the number one tourist destination in the country. Just last year, the Orlando International Airport was named the top airport for customer service satisfaction by J.D. Power’s 2017 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. In spite of this, in February GOAA voted to put airport security in the hands of under-trained, low-paid private contractors—a move that would have been devastating to the community and put the lives of travelers at risk.
TSA officers are federally trained and take an oath to protect our country. Their competency and commitment cannot be reproduced by contractors. Any attempt to do so would have had serious implications on Orlando’s local and tourism economy-- not to mention the safety of the flying public.
Last year, TSA officers at Orlando International Airport ranked seventh in the country for discovering the most guns– 84 percent of which were loaded. But for the last couple of months, these men and women faced the threat of having their jobs, pensions, and benefits stripped away.
After learning of the privatization plan, AFGE organized a major campaign to roll back this bad proposal to outsource national security. AFGE TSA members and staff met with the GOAA board members Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, GOAA Chairman Frank Kruppenbacher, aides of Orange City Mayor Teresa Jacobs whom we spoke to at the Board of County Commissioners monthly meeting. We held two rallies: one outside the Orange County Administration Center which garnered the attention of six TV camera crews and one radio program; the other outside the main terminal at the airport which local media covered with a live shot on their morning coverage. AFGE TSA members received huge support from members of Congress and allies.
AFGE attributes the overturned decision to the efforts of TSA, the GOAA Board, and Florida lawmakers who came together to work through longstanding problems to create real solutions.
AFGE is grateful to Senators Nelson and Rubio, Reps. Demings, Soto, and Murphy, Mayor Dyer, TSA management, and the GOAA board for their work in securing this vote to save local jobs and protect the citizens of the Orlando metro area. We collaborated with members of Congress, GOAA, and TSA to improve passenger screening at Orlando and save more than a thousand union jobs.
“Thank you to everyone who stood with us in solidarity during this fight,” said Thomas. “We all know how vital our TSA workforce is, and we are happy the GOAA board decided to ensure the safety of the flying public by keeping TSA officers on the job.”
AFGE, which represents more than 45,000 TSA Officers nationwide, has been active in the fight to keep screening in the hands of federally trained officers at airports nationwide.