OIA Moves Toward Replacing TSA

WFTV Orlando

Wednesday afternoon, Orlando International Airport officials took their first step toward getting rid of TSA workers. The federal agency would still oversee screening, but a private contractor would conduct it.

It’s unlikely that passengers will notice much of a difference, because the rules won’t change. But some believe a private company employee has to work daily to keep their job, where it’s more difficult to fire a government worker if the job is not being done.

Brad Barlow is in and out of airports at least 15 times a year. He flew out of Kansas City Wednesday morning, an airport comparable to OIA that uses a private company to screen passengers instead of the TSA.

“And they all look the same, so how do you know what’s private and what’s TSA?” Barlow asked.

Kansas City is an airport the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) looked at and will continue to look at as it decides whether to use the TSA or switch to a private security company. It also looked at Key West.

Airports that have made the switch cited several reasons, efficiency and accountability; they can hire and fire locally without government red tape.

Union representatives for TSA employees say OIA will get better quality workers with the government.

“Background checks? Background checks, criminal history, sex offenders? Sex offenders, all that cost money. So does a private company have that kind of money to keep spending? We’re checked every three to four months,” said Donald Thompson, AFGE union representative

The authority began looking into the issue after receiving a letter from Congressman John Mica and the recent controversy over patdowns and body scanners. John Baezer says laid off TSA workers will be getting jobs with the private companies and this is just trading one uniform for another.

“We don’t need scanners or groping patdowns,” Baezer said.

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