The Greater Orlando Airport Authority voted after an hour long meeting at Orlando International Airport regarding whether to begin the process of moving toward using a private security screening company instead of the Transportation Security Administration.
After many TSA employees and members of the public passionately joined in on the discussion, the two-hour meeting concluded with a 6-1 vote, with board members ultimately approving the decision to begin the process of looking into replacing the TSA agents with private screeners, if problems with members of upper-level TSA management cannot be resolved within the next two months.
Initially, a memorandum was sent to the board detailing how a study showed customer satisfaction was dropping and wait times through screening were going to increase.
Officials from GOAA said they hope privatizing security will provide travelers with better customer service and reduce wait times through security checkpoints. TSA officials argue that travelers would see very little difference because the screening methods would remain the same and contracted employees must pass the same background checks as TSA employees.
But about halfway through the meeting, both the CEO of the airport and the chairman of the board explained how a change was needed with the upper-level management of the local division of TSA, instead of just TSA agents at the OIA. “It’s not the screeners,” chairman Frank Kruppenbacher said. “I recognize on any given day there’s a screener somebody’s not happy with, but that’s management dealing with those issues.”
Kruppenbacher said that he sees a major lack of communication between the senior management of the TSA locally and his staff. “I’m taking the gloves off for this. There’s a leadership problem with TSA locally. That’s it, summed up,” he said. Kruppenbacher’s statement prompted applause from TSA agents and other union members. “The leadership at TSA in Orlando is not at a level capable of managing TSA at this airport,” he said. Two top TSA directors were seen leaving earlier in the meeting, after their own presentation was completed and before Kruppenbacher’s comments were made.
Many of the dozens of TSA employees who packed the room to make their points before the vote took place shared how being laid off if the transition takes place could hurt them financially.