Cartoon: Elves United!

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Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it! And to those of you that don’t celebrate it but do enjoy saying “merry Christmas!”

I love doing pro-union cartoons, and I’m proud that my cartoons have appeared in various union newsletters over the years.

It’s not a subject I see often enough in political cartoons. And not only are unions essential in and of themselves, they’re also a powerful force for progressive politics – or they can be.

The idea for this cartoon is pretty basic: Elves at the North Pole try to form a union, and management (Santa) tries to stop them using anti-union arguments and techniques corporations use in the real world. It’s an easy-to-understand premise that can support a lot of gags.

The nice thing about a cartoon like this one is that doing a gag per panel gives me several bites at the funny apple. Joke in one panel doesn’t strike you as funny? Well, then, go try the next one. And the one after that. Surely at least one of these will amuse you!

This one took a while to draw, primarily because there are 20 different figures (or partial figures) visible in the cartoon, and they all had to fit in smaller-than-usual panels with quite a lot of dialog. (And then Frank Young had to color all those figures. Sorry, Frank!)

Santa was very easy to draw. Rudolph took more effort, but it was totally worth it. I don’t know why, but that’s the panel in this cartoon that makes me laugh.


This cartoon has six panels. Each panel has a large caption at the top, in a big friendly font that’s colored black, red, and green.


CAPTION: How Bosses Try To Beat The Union

The panel shows seven angry-looking elves who are either demonstrating or on strike. Behind them is a large banner that says “Elves United Cannot Be Defeated.” One elf holds up a sign which says “No Justice No Toys!,” and another holds up a sign which says “Santa Unfair!”


CAPTION: Playing the Family Card

This panel shows Santa, with a big smile and arms stretched out like he’s about to hug someone, talking to a skeptical-looking elf with crossed arms. Santa is wearing the traditional Santa red pants and black boots, and suspenders and a white tee shirt.

SANTA: I’ve always thought of us as family, not as boss and workers.

ELF: What’s my name?

SANTA: um… Elfie? Elfo?


CAPTION: Predicting Catastrophe

In the background, we see Santa standing at a lectern, making a speech and looking stern. In the foreground, one elf cheerfully whispers to the elf next to them.

SANTA: If the elves form a union, that will be the end of Christmas forever!

ELF: Don’t worry. Hannukah would hire us in a second!


CAPTION: Divide and Conquer

Santa, grinning big, is talking to Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, raising a finger to make a point. Rudolph, looking a little angry, talks back.

SANTA: Get the elves back to work, and you’ll lead the sleigh every year, fog or no fog!

RUDOLPH: No deal, Santa! Rudolph ain’t playing your reindeer games!


CAPTION: Manufacturing Dissent

Santa is sitting on the floor, wearing the full Santa outfit, plus a fake long nose and fake pointy ears, in a pathetically bad attempt to disguise himself as an elf. He’s talking to two elves, one of whom is slapping their forehead in a “I don’t believe this” gesture, while the other is grinning (almost laughing) and talking to Santa.

SANTA: Speaking as an ordinary elf, I don’t trust these unionizers! No sir!

ELF: Seriously?


CAPTION: But Eventually…

In the background, we see two children, looking happy, next to a Christmas Tree. They have packages on the floor around them, and one of the kids is holding an open box, and looking at a slip of paper he presumably just pulled out of the box.

In the foreground, Santa, wearing the full traditional Santa outfit and with a big bag slung over one shoulder, is walking away from the kids, but he turns his head back and speaks, looking grumpy.

CHILD 1: It says “Proudly manufactured by union elves.”

CHILD 2: Cool!

SANTA: Ah, shuddup!

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8 Responses to Cartoon: Elves United!

  1. 1
    Petar says:

    Considering how much ground unions have lost in the US in the last few decades, I find your last panel puzzling.

    They are losing the fight everywhere. In the legislature, in the media, and in the hearts of people, even the ones directly benefiting from unions.

    Workers’ rights and protection is a nice buzzword, but even in California, come election time, most propositions go the employers’ way. I shut down the radio at least twenty times, this last election, recognizing misguiding, underhanded anti-worker advertisements as effective.

    Powerful unions are not happening in the US. Temporarily inconvenienced millionaires have no use for them.

  2. 2
    Chris says:

    Agreed about the Rudolph panel. He looks adorable.

  3. 3
    Polaris says:

    And then Santa outsources production to China.

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    When I was a Scout B.S.A. uniforms were made in the U.S.A. by union labor. The union bug was sewn into every piece of uniforming I owned (over 40 years I’ve owned a lot of uniforming).

    A few years ago that stopped. The B.S.A. made note of it, explaining that people weren’t buying the uniforming because it just got too expensive. So now it’s made overseas and brought into the U.S. I personally don’t think it’s made as well. I wish they had kept its manufacture here, but the pricing was getting high – in fact it’s still pretty high to put a Scout into a hat, shirt, neckerchief, belt and pants or shorts and socks. Most Troops are happy if you just get the shirt (the various patches that go on the shirt are going to run ~$10 and that’s if you sew them on yourself).

  5. 5
    Mookie says:

    This charity with more than $1 billion in assets is so broke that they won’t buy or subsidize uniforms but will annually pay their CEO a cool halfish mil + benefits. Yep, it’s the union labor what done it!

    If the present is anything like the near future, efforts to organize labor in the US will continue to expand among sub-management pink and white collar workers as well as students, and that will inject cash and resources into the established but shrinking unions they join, merge, ally with, or organize alongside.

  6. 6
    Corso says:


    I’m not going to say the salary CEO of the boy scouts earned, proportional, or wise… But there are 2.3 million boy scouts in America on top of the million or so volunteers. If BSA paid their CEO $0 instead of $500,000, that’d subsidize approximately $0.21 from each scout’s uniform.

    This is something I point out whenever someone points out that a CEO salary is the reason why companies can’t afford things. It’s basically never true. While CEO salaries are portraits of excess and obviously disproportionate to the market, they’re often proportionate to the size of the organization, and end up being a drop in the bucket. CEO salaries, particularly in America, are huge wastes of cash given to people who perpetually fail upwards, and I agree that there should be pressure on companies to reimagine their leadership compensation… But even if you gutted every CEO position in America, you’d only be able to give their employees pennies.

    As another example; The CEO of Walmart America makes 22.1 million, which is crazy huge and disproportionate… But there are 1.5 million Wal Mart Employees; If you cut the CEO salary, you’d get about $14 bucks per employee. Would you like that in a lump sum or pro-rated onto their wages?

    My point is that the wage problem is not actually encapsulated in CEO salaries, CEO salaries are just opulent, low-hanging fruit.

  7. 7
    RonF says:

    The B.S.A.’s assets consist of its high adventure bases such as Philmont and Summit, an office building and various investments. Selling off the program locations would materially injure its ability to provide program to its members. Selling off the investments would deprive it of the income it needs to maintain the program locations; three of which I have used and they take a LOT of maintenance to maintain safety standards while providing program. Then there’s the amount of money they’re going to need to pay off the abuse claims. Between that and what are likely increased liability insurance premiums, annual registration fees to go from ~$22 to ~$100 in the last two years.

    I’ve been a member of the B.S.A. for about 40 years. National Council is far from perfect. And from what I can tell they likely do share some responsibility for some of the abuses that occurred. Organizational changes are needed. But there’s not a lot of spare money in the national organization, nor in the vast majority of the local Councils.

  8. 8
    RonF says:

    I don’t begrudge the salary of the B.S.A.’s CEO. I figure most CEOs of organizations it’s size and reach earn more, and don’t receive nearly as many death threats.