Here's my take on it Kip, from having a good friend who was "original equipment." WJ played the "we are all equal" game pretty successfully, the Pilot's held their noses and groomed the Airplanes and then went home and counted their money. The early days of big profit share cheques and fast upgrades. Times have changed and now the WJ Pilots are quitting in droves, with many coming to AC, some going overseas and even (who would have ever guessed) Sunwing. On a recent flight with an ex-WJ'er, he described it as a Black Culture with a tattle tail environment of "writing up" your fellow employee as outlined in the CUPE newsletter. If you're not a good little do-bee we'll send you in for re-programming.
I have also been told that the original casual uniform was done by design, there was a feeling that having the Pilots wear the traditional double breasted Tunic with gold stripes would encourage the Pilots to feel they were above the masses. The casual Uniform and grooming Airplanes was all part of the social experiment.
Well 23 years down the road times have changed, pay is average (to well below at Encore and Swoop,) upgrades at Mainline are a long wait and profit share cheques have dried up. AC is hiring gangbusters with fast upgrades and we don't need knee patches on our slacks.
Next few years are going to be fun to watch, here's hoping they open the US border to Canadian Pilots.