It developed the engines that power many of today’s jet fighters and decades of space launches -- Diaz’ RL-10 blasted the current Mars Rover mission’s second stage toward the planet. But the Space Shuttle program’s termination and a consolidation of military engine programs has taken its toll.
Employment, including a helicopter operation, is hovering around 1,600, down from around 8,000 in the plant’s late 1990s heyday. But some employees say those upheavals are more understandable than the current threat, a creature of Congress’ own making and so indiscriminate that no one has actually sorted out precisely where the cuts will hit.
“There’s definitely a tension. No one really speaks about sequestration on a day-to-day basis but it comes up around the water cooler,” Johnson said. “There’s an uncertainty there that people are uncomfortable with.”
But few are expecting movement on the cuts before the Nov. 6 presidential election. “The partisanship will just get amped up,” added Diaz. “The rhetoric makes it difficult.”
JUST FIX IT
The Pratt & Whitney engineers declined to assign fault to either party for their dilemma. Instead, they prescribed a practical problem-solving approach.
“No blaming. Let’s just fix it,” Larkin said. “Get the appropriate people to come together, set aside their differences and make a decision.”
They’ve made that plea to their own elected official in Congress, Republican Representative Allen West, who is definitely one of those “appropriate people.”