ORLANDO, Fla., April 18, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) voted to rescind its previous controversial vote to begin the process of contracting out security at Orlando International 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 American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr.
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 AFGE says 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," said AFGE District 5 National Vice President Everett Kelley.
Last year the Transportation Security Officers at Orlando International Airport ranked seventh in the country for discovering the most guns– 84 percent of which were loaded.
"These highly-trained, highly-skilled officers have sworn an oath to protect the Constitution and the American public, and have been recognized for their hard work by J.D. Power. But for the last couple of months, these men and women faced the threat of having their jobs, pensions, and benefits stripped away," said Kelley.
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; Congressmembers 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," said Cox. "We collaborated with members of Congress, GOAA, and TSA to improve passenger screening at Orlando and save more than a thousand union jobs."
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.
"Thank you to everyone who stood with us in solidarity during this fight," said AFGE TSA Council President Hydrick 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."
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.