Charlotte, NC - You're young, eager, healthy -- and can't get the job you want to save your life. Literally. Part of that is the nature of capitalism, where competition is the heartbeat that keeps the system running. But for the 20-something generation, being locked out of the good jobs is a matter of having a future, period. They say they can’t get a shot.
Bobby, a part-time occupier and maintenance worker who says he'd rather be working in a restaurant, frowns in concentration as he forms block letters on a sign. “This is a world where the upper class gets benefits whereas we get hand-me-downs. …A lot of jobs nowadays require experience, but if you can’t get a job to get experience…” his voice trails off. “This is our future.” Bobby is a 21-year old Fort Mill resident whose family came south from Connecticut five years ago. “We are the middle class,” he says.
“I had to lie about my experience to get a job,” a waitress says. Her name and place of employment aren't mentioned here for obvious reasons. She is a part-time occupier, coming in on weekends and her day off.
The occupiers’ conundrum is not new; people currently with no job at all might consider their concerns just whining. But in previous years, the job market was not as tight. Employers were more willing to take a chance on a new, untried person. Now, fledgling employees are competing with experienced workers with advanced college degrees and families to feed. Under those circumstances, they say it’s pretty hard to see yourself with a decent future. And if they are going to be locked out of the more solid jobs, they say they want to see fairness applied to the lower-levels. Equal benefits, decent salaries. Companies where all workers are treated as equally important to the enterprise. After all, 21-year-old DJ from Mooresville says, “corporations are lots of parts that would not work without all the other parts.”
The Occupy Wall Street/Charlotte encampment was set up on October 8th, and now covers a plot of land across from the Mecklenburg Police Department, just below the intersection of North Davidson and East Trade. There are 32 tents plus an information area, a medical tent, and a cooking area. They’re open 24/7, and visitors -- and donations -- are welcome.