It’s Time for Santa’s Elves to Unionize

They’re making more than 100,000 toys an hour—for no pay. Enough.

Deagreez/Getty

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

It’s the most wonderful time of year: catchy songs, warm drinks, family time, and of course, presents. Every Christmas, kids all over the world hope they make the cut on Santa’s Nice List in order to receive presents under the tree, lovingly delivered by Santa himself with the help of eight reindeer. But while Santa gets all the credit, it’s actually the elves who are toiling in a factory at the North Pole making all the toys—for free. After centuries of unpaid labor, it’s time: Santa’s elves need a union.

Each year, 2 billion people celebrate Christmas. For argument’s sake, let’s say 500 million of those people are children, and they each receive two toys. The elves would have to make approximately 2.74 million toys every single day, assuming they take Christmas Day off. That’s more than 114,000 toys per hour, provided they don’t eat or sleep at all. At that rate of production, the elves will have to begin work again on December 26; otherwise, they won’t have enough time to make all of the gifts for the next year.

Santa’s workshop? More like Santa’s sweatshop.

And let’s not even start with Elf on the Shelf, the elves who have been dispatched to keep an eye on children to make sure they don’t misbehave. Isn’t Santa supposed to be monitoring behavior? Why has he outsourced this to the criminally overworked elves?

Although Santa, like any good factory owner, is pretty secretive about daily life at the North Pole, the data is clear: This is slave labor.

Luckily, the elves have a way to make this grueling job a little more pleasant. Unions have been proven to increase pay for individual workers (and their decline has been one reason for the mass income inequality we see today.) If the elves organize, they can put an end to this gross miscarriage of justice and fight for better pay, ensure the North Pole has safe working conditions, and guarantee benefits (like more than one day a year to rest). 

Every year, the elves make toys for the children of the world while Santa gets rewarded with milk and cookies and cute songs. It’s time the elves get recognized too.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate