Second to None

With a warm Alabama accent and plain-spoken tone, Marion Blakey’s message is clear: jobs in the aerospace and defense industry must be preserved.

I was glad to be a part of an audience that welcomed the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) to the City Club in Cleveland last Friday. In addition to the pioneers I wrote about last week, Ms. Blakey’s contemporary career arc has flown an amazing course. Her continued commitment to the future U.S. aerospace and defense workers is - to use her own words - Second To None.

Among her credentials, Ms. Blakey has held six Presidential appointments, four which required Senate confirmation.  Currently, Ms. Blakey leads the AIA which represents more than 150 leading manufacturers, along with a supplier base of nearly 200 associate members. She became the full time chief executive in 2007.  Before the AIA, she served a five year term as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration; regulating the nation’s airways, operating the world’s largest traffic control system and managing 44,000 employees with a $14 billion dollar budget.

From this vast experience, Ms. Blakey is convinced that American workers are the best in the world, and that we need a national fiscal policy that allows them to remain in their jobs.  In the aerospace industry more than 1 million workers in all fifty states are directly employed, and more than 3.5 million supporting jobs are related. Aerospace contributes billions to our economy each year. She’s so committed that she told Politico recently, “I feel like I have sequestration tattooed on my back right now.”

Sequestration was scheduled during past rounds of budget cuts, that threaten to shut down integral parts of the U.S. aerospace industry. This will likely result in the loss of skilled workers from their jobs. In Ohio alone, the current bill is holds 40,000 jobs at risk in aerospace and aviation. Blakey urges their necessity, and that innovation and education are the backbone of aerospace and our country’s competitiveness.

With less than 100 days to stop the budget cuts, Ms. Blakey and the Second to None campaign are reaching out to voters to stop the sequestration. In an OpEd with R. Thomas Buffenbarger last month she wrote, “Sequestration is the easy way out, not the smart way forward.”

*A full recording of her talk at the City Club of Cleveland is available here.


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