Cartoon: A Living Wage For Everybody

Another collab with Becky Hawkins.

I want to point out that the new cartoon collection, Yet Another Example of Pro-Billionaire Bigotry, is now available on Amazon!

If you like these cartoons, then you’d probably also like running your tongue along a gritty dark staircase bannister, but that sounds gross and people wouldn’t understand so you keep it secret. It’s not a sex thing or anything, it’s more about texture. Also, patreon.

Becky says:

My biggest challenge was drawing hands convincingly holding up the protest signs. I looked up photos of fast food workers protesting. While I was looking for unwitting hand models, I noticed that a lot of the protesters wore their work uniforms and protested outside of their workplaces. This gave me the idea to give everyone matching red and yellow shirts, and to draw the suggestion of a brick fast food restaurant next to a huge parking lot.

I also took photos of myself holding a large sketchbook to mimic the specific sign-holding poses I wanted to draw. (Barry, if you want to show the nice patrons a reference photo, there are a few in the file.) I probably did equal parts tracing and fudging the hands in the end.

Barry and I both go back and forth between drawing big-headed cartoon characters, and people with more naturalistic proportions. Unfortunately, sometimes we go back and forth in the same comic strip. The first version of this cartoon had two big-headed panels and two small-headed panels. I was happy with each individual drawing, but in order to get them consistent, I sized the heads up and down in Photoshop before doing the final art.

(Back to Barry.)

This is so atypical of my political cartoons, because it’s nice. There’s no bad guy, and everyone is happy and friends by the final panel. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve done a cartoon this nice before.

It’s also unusual in having two silent panels. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before, either.

The moral of the cartoon is, workers are better off banding together against bosses than fighting each other. And that’s true, even if it’s also a really, really, really obvious point.

Unions – the most powerful form of worker solidarity – even increase wages for non-union workers. From an Economic Policy Institute report:

By bringing workers’ collective power to the bargaining table, unions are able to win better wages and benefits for working people—reducing income inequality as a result. …

When unions are strong, they set wage standards for entire industries and occupations; they make wages more equal within occupations; and they close pay gaps between white workers and workers of color.

Even employers who don’t have to deal with a union directly, still have to compete for workers with unionized workplaces, forcing them to raise wages higher than they would if unions didn’t exist.

Over the long term, nothing has been worst for progressives in the US than the decline of unions.

Unfortunately, workers in the US simply don’t have enough protections for the right to unionize. The Protecting The Right To Organize Act (aka the PRO Act) has passed the House twice, and is supported by 59% of likely voters. But business groups oppose it, and because of the filibuster the PRO Act can’t pass in the Senate.

Meanwhile, pursuing non-union ways to improve workers’ situations – like living wage bills in the states that can pass them – is one way we can move forward, despite the filibuster.


This cartoon has four panels, all showing the same scene – a white man wearing a tee shirt (the shirt front features an illustration of a bald eagle) is talking to a black woman holding a sign. Her sign says “Fast Food Workers Need A Living Wage!” She has short dark hair and is wearing hoop earrings and cat’s-eye glasses.

Behind her we can see other demonstrators, with signs that say things like “Fair Pay” and “Raise the Raise” and the like. All the demonstrators are wearing bright red shirts with yellow collars, suggestive of fast food worker uniforms.

A building partly visible in the background has the sort of architecture I associate with fast food restaurants.


The man is talking to the woman, looking a bit angry and raising a forefinger in a lecture-y fashion. The woman is listening thoughtfully.

MAN: If burger flippers get a “living wage,” they’ll make more than me! How is that fair?


The man has folded his arms and is listening but with an obviously hostile expression. The woman has lowered her sign a bit and is speaking with a bit of fervor.

WOMAN: It’s not fair! Because if people getting a living wage are making more than you… Then you’re being seriously underpaid.


The “camera” backs up, so we’re now at a bit of a difference. The man looks extremely taken aback. No one speaks.


Apparently a little time has passed. The man, now smiling, has joined the protestors, standing next to the woman (who is also smiling). The man is now holding a sign which says “A Living Wage for Everybody!”

This cartoon on Patreon

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7 Responses to Cartoon: A Living Wage For Everybody

  1. 1
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Between the actor being interviewed in the fat-suit cartoon, and the eagle-shirt guy in this cartoon, you seem to be in an optimistic phase, where people are actually listening and learning. I really do like seeing it, though I’m afraid I have a hard time believing it.

  2. 2
    Dianne says:

    I absolutely adore this one. Even more than usual.

  3. 4
    Görkem says:

    It has often depressed me that even Americans who identify as “liberal” and “progressive”, who support LGBT rights and abortion and climate action, when asked about unions, are actively dismissive and claim that unions are inevitably corrupt and regressive.

    Ronald Reagan did a bloody good job if even his enemies are parroting his arguments, 40 years after he left office.

  4. 5
    Ian Morris says:

    some people are not to deep into right-wing ideology to realize trhey are also being exploited

  5. 6
    Dianne says:

    @4: First they came for the trade unionists and we* cheered them on. It’s no wonder that they thought it safe to keep going.

    *We=the US public. Not meant to imply any given individual did so, especially those who were not yet born or were infants in the 1980s or who aren’t USians.

  6. 7
    RonF says:

    Unions are not inherently corrupt and/or regressive. But they have often found to be corrupt. God knows the one I belonged to was. I’m all for unions in the private sector and have no issues with various levels of government ensuring that elections to establish/disestablish/reorganize them are free and fair.

    The notion of public unions, OTOH, I do think is inherently corrupt because a) the people representing “management” have no personal skin in the game and b) the union has an outsize influence in who gets to be management in the first place.