They treat the truckers like royalty because they're desperately afraid that they'll unionize. That's one group that can shut the place down if they wanted to. So they get good pay, steak dinners at the distribution centers, etc... I've heard it's the best job in trucking. As such, it's trucking's equivalent of a legacy job, big prerequisites, high minimums, and tough to get.
Aviation, on the other hand, could be replaced by Flexjet tomorrow. Easily replaced with no impact to the company.
I wouldn't say the pilots lack self respect. I would say that in some cases it is still the best job they've ever had. In others they were born and raised in AR and can't conceive going elsewhere. In still others they live paycheck to paycheck and can't afford to take a hit for a year or two in order to start over at another job and work their way back up to what they were earning. Maybe a handful have Stockholm syndrome. And then there are those in the "good ol' boys" club. For them the job truly is different than it is for the rest. They're treated with dignity and respect. They get airlined home for holidays. They are selected to be G650 pilots or standards pilots or ops coordinators. They don't fly back to back to back trips or get days off taken away at short notice. Their expenses aren't scrutinized nor are their fuel-stop decisions constantly questions or critiqued.
Those that could leave have left. There are probably another 4-5 who will leave within the next year.
The company is about to throw more $$ and a 12 day off schedule at them to slow the attrition. My bet is that in a year the schedule improvements will have been rescinded when they couldn't staff long trips without airlining crews to swap out for days off. They change the "permanent" days off schedule there with great frequency.
The money will stick, but what good is money if you have no time at home to spend it?
When I was hired there it was a good alternative to a major airline job. It paid about what a senior FO at a major paid with better schedule and some fantastic benefits.
When I left it has degraded to the equivalent of a mediocre regional. It paid what a senior RJ captain paid with a schedule worse than most regionals. No longer family friendly.