Rule 3: Advantage Business

One of the reasons that the corporation is generally opposed to collective bargaining is because it empowers workers and balances the power equation. Unspoken Business Rule #3 maintains that the business must maintain power over its workers.

Employee Salary – A great illustration is the fact that though the company knows what each employee’s salary is, employees must never know this information. In fact, there is a kind of established taboo against this because of the havoc it would create. This taboo serves to keep the power equation balanced in favor of the corporation. If employees began speaking to one another about their salaries and this knowledge became transparent, there would be considerable discontent over the fact that the guy sitting next to you is making more money that you for doing the same job. This would also quickly illuminate any racial or sexual discrimination in the workplace. Business has a great interest in keeping these discussions taboo.

The internet – to a large extent – has helped empower employees to learn their market value. Sites like salary.com as well as professional membership organizations often do anonymous surveys to get these figures. Before the web these numbers were difficult to come by because of the taboo against discussing compensation. The taboo runs so deep that even some families refuse to discuss this with their spouse or children!

The Offer Letter – You get your offer letter by FedEx Next Day. You sign it and send it back. You’re so excited. You’ve finally landed a position with the firm of your choice. You’re ready to start in a few weeks. To be professional (and polite) you call the other firms you’ve been interviewing with and tell them you have decided to accept an offer from Firm Y. They wish you the best of luck and you begin preparing to start in a few short weeks.

Then, you get a letter in the mail saying that the firm has decided to “push back” your start date by 6 months. What?! Is this possible? Is this even legal? After all, you signed an offer letter which indicated a start date in just a few weeks. You call the firm and they give some seriously lame excuse like “sales are down” or “budget constraints.” This is doublespeak. What is actually means is that they have given offer letters to too many candidates. You see, businesses hedge their bets and give offers to more people than they can actually bring on board. This is especially true for consulting firms. They play the odds that only a fraction will actually accept. However, often their bluff is called.

Have you ever purchased a ticket to fly somewhere months in advance only to get to the airport to discover that the airline finds itself in an “oversold” situation? Of course you have. This happens daily at any major airport. The airline even goes to the great length of using passive voice English – as if they were just passive victims to the situation. Imagine if passengers decided whether or not they were going to pay for travel that they booked in advance. Perhaps a passenger would find themselves in an “under funded” situation? Or maybe you sign your offer letter and just decide not to show up to work. Imagine if you received 10 offer letters, signed all of them, and mailed them back and then later decided you were going to just work at 7-11. This would reflect poorly on things like “professionalism” and “integrity.” However, when this is done to individuals by the corporation (or the airline) it’s just “policy” or “standard business practice.”

There are many more examples – these are just a couple that come to mind. If you have other examples or counter-examples, please let me know.

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