The Occupy Wall Street movement is gaining steam despite Twitter blocking #OccupyWallStreet from becoming a trending topic. Similar protests have popped up in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago and threaten to hit Atlanta as social media users are calling for an occupation of CNN.
The thing that has become most interesting about Occupy Wall Street is who is protesting. Sure, there are your long-haired, peace-loving overly naïve college kids, 9/11 truthers, and standard anti-capitalists, but Wednesday bore witness to slightly different sight as over 700 United Continental pilots joined the movement. Dressed in freshly pressed suits, impeccable flight caps and shiny pilots’ wings, they marched together outside of the stock exchange and held signs demanding better treatment from United.
Since the merger of United and Continental over a year ago, pilots have been working without a contract and now demand better wages and treatment. In a interview with Metro Captain Jay Pierce, a Continental pilot for 23 years, said:
Pilots are asking for better pay and want management to address issues such as not getting enough rest in between flights. Instead, he said, management’s focus has been on minor details.
“We were seeing a lot of attention paid to painting airplanes,” he said, “and cute cocktail napkins.”
According to Randy Hodge, the Secretary Treasurer for the Continental Master Executive Council, pilots have worked on a continue in force contract since 1997 and they want to come to an agreement so the company can reach full synergy. According to his interview with International Business Times,
“We negotiated in 30 days that gave up our pensions to save the company from bankruptcy,” Hodge said. “We think they are dragging their feet here.”
Rejecting the methods of many involved with Occupy Wall Street, the pilots, who are represented by the Air Lines Pilots Association, decided to forgo the chants and Vuvuzelas and instead opted to respectfully show their strength merely in numbers. Hodge said of the tactic, ”they were professionals and very disciplined and as pilots needed to act accordingly.”
According to IBT, Amy Flanagan, a senior communications specialist for the council, said the pilots strategy was to appeal to frequent fliers in the Wall Street area to try to show them that the merger between the two airlines wasn’t going quite as well as the company would like for you to believe.
The pilots’ appearance helped lend credibility to the protest/social movement and is likely to encourage other disenchanted groups of workers to follow the lead. Last night, in fact, the New York Transport Workers Union (TWU) appears to have voted to support the #OccupyWallStreet protest as well.