ORLANDO, Fla. – Members of the Greater Orlando Airport Authority are scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to begin the process of eliminating Transportation Security Administration agents and transitioning to private security.
Since TSA oversees all airport security -- both private and federal -- the GOAA will need to submit an application to the agency to request hiring a private security firm to handle security at Orlando International Airport.
TSA will have 120 days to either accept or reject that application. If approved, OIA would be the largest airport to switch from using TSA to private security. It would also mean that 1,100 TSA agents would lose their jobs or be transferred to a different airport or federal facility.
The next step in the process would be choosing a private security firm. GOAA members would create a committee to oversee the selection of a firm, then a suggestion would be given to TSA, which would then have 12 months to grant a private security contract.
It would then take between four and six months to fully transition from TSA to private security, meaning the entire process would take at least 18 months.
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 will remain the same and contracted employees must pass the same background checks as TSA employees.
Members of the TSA's workers union protested Tuesday outside the office of one of the GOAA board members.
"You don't know if you're going to be able to pay your mortgage, your car, or put food on the table for your family," Norma Alvarado, a retired TSA agent, said.
"Let's be real: you get what you pay for," J. David Cox, AFGE president, added. "You're going to have higher turnover, you're not going to get the great people you had before."
During their meeting Wednesday afternoon, GOAA members will vote on potentially transitioning.
Gov. Rick Scott just announced a reappointment and new appointment to fill the vacant seventh seat on that board. That newest appointment, Maggi Montalvo, who is currently the chief operating officer of First Colony Bank of Florida, will be allowed to participate and vote in that board meeting.