Miffed over merger mania? Ticked about takeoveritis? Lamenting the loss of your job to a corporate raid? Help is at hand.
The "Loyal Order of Swine Singers," (L.O.S.S.) is a new and not-so-secret national fraternity formed to help employees whose companies have been swept up by deal-makers who have made the leveraged buyout an art form.The organization's rallying cry: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. All you do is waste your time and annoy the pig."
The message in that adage is this: "When a company is bought out, attempts to share ideas and policies are often met with little or no enthusiasm, creating intense frustration, both from being ignored and seeing previously successful policies, procedures and ideas of the acquired company simply dumped like yesterday's trash."
That's John Hunter talking, one of L.O.S.S.'s organizers and a resident of Winston-Salem, N.C., where some of the largest corporate buyouts in history - including RJR/Nabisco and Piedmont Airlines have taken place.
Hunter says the Loyal Order of Swine Singers is designed as an outlet for some of the anger and frustration that results when the acquiring entity turns a deaf ear to the policies and procedures that made the acquired company an attractive takeover target in the first place.
"This is extremely disheartening to the people who are legitimately concerned about completing a successful integration of two companies and find themselves being ignored, or worse, with a long career abruptly terminated," says Hunter.
He said the society has created some diversions to cope with the frustration, including a secret creed and signals, a secret oath and L.O.S.S identity items including beverage mugs, T-shirts, license plates and such.
For example, Swine Singers signal each other with "a finger under the nose and a discreet grunt," says Hunter. The "pig de'resistance" is a coat of arms T-shirt which allows the wearer to "put on the hog" and emulate "His Royal Swineness," who is the secret leader of the Swine Singers.
Members are often called upon to recite a quote attributed to Winston Churchill: "Dogs look up to you; Cats look down on you; Pigs consider you their equals."
All of this, Hunter claims, eases the pain of mergeritis.
"Research shows that loss of one's job ranks among the top three most traumatic experiences in a lifetime . . . we want to ease that burden, if only a little."
It is a struggle faced by many these days. More than 1,300 mergers and takeovers were reported last year, involving more than $457 billion in deals, according to IDD Information Services.
Anyone interested in forming a local Swine Singers "sty" can get more information by writing to L.O.S.S., 124 Reynolda Village, Winston-Salem, N.C. 27106 or phone 919-721-1773.