Santa’s Elves on Strike!

Minutes after completing their contractual obligations for the 2015 Christmas season, thousands of angry Elves walked off the job at the North Pole’s primary toy construction center on North Rudolph Road.

According to Alabaster Snowball, the lead negotiator for the North Pole Elves’ Association (NPEA), the elves are PISSED. “We have had enough. We are simply sick and tired of living under Santa Inc.’s tyrannical leadership,” Snowball exclaimed.

The official NPEA news release cited long hours, lack of overtime, rising health insurance costs, and no pay increase since the 1870s as primary factors behind the strike.

For years, the NPEA has complained that working conditions at Santa Inc.’s manufacturing and distribution center have become intolerable. Lack of certified elves has also exacerbated the national elf shortage, causing remaining elves to take on larger toy production numbers with no additional pay.

Furthermore, the disgruntled Elves claim that new Common Core Toy Standards (CCTS)—accompanied by new high stakes inspections—have taken the joy and autonomy out of the toy-building profession.

Lead toy maker, Bushy Evergreen, remarked: “By the time I was a boy of 113, I had already carved millions of wooden trains, cars, animals, and wagons. I know how to do this job and am constantly refining my craft to meet children’s endless demand for new toys. Yet, today I am under increasing scrutiny by government officials who couldn’t make a wooden train set if their life depended on it.”

Evergreen lamented, “Being an elf used to be a respected and trusted career. Once you were certified, you were allowed to use your own creativity to create toys to meet each child’s play needs. With the new national standards, we just have to make the same toys for every kid.”

“Yet, our research shows that some children just aren’t ready to handle more complicated toys at these younger ages. Some children enjoy more active toys while others like to play under more controlled conditions,” Evergreen continued. “It is frustrating when you are forced to do build toys you know in your gut are just not developmentally appropriate. Toy-making should be about the kids, damn it!”

The Elves also claim that new Elf Evaluation Systems are invalid and unfair.

New systems enacted with the Cobble to the Top (CttT) initiative require that all toy factories assess their Elves based on multiple quantitative and qualitative measures. These systems are under increasing criticism from Elves who don’t work in toy production and older elves with declining physical abilities.

According to Evergreen, Elves on the assembly line are now affixed with tracker devices which force a pace of work sustainable only by the very fittest. Restroom breaks are rarely given and Elves who call in sick are ridiculed and threatened with dismissal. If performance is too slow, an elf’s wages can be docked and they can be placed on a Toy-Building Development Plan (TBDP).

The roots of this current dispute go back to the 1980s when Santa—faced with criticism that North Pole toys had fallen to the middle of the pack in international toy comparisons—sold a controlling interest to a consortium of venture capitalists. While Santa and his local Board of Elves are in charge of day-to-day decisions, most of the major reforms are driven by wealthy philanthropists and complicit federal officials.

Mr. Snowball commented, “For four hundred years, I was entrusted with one of the most important jobs here as the administrator of the ‘Naughty or Nice List.’ However, after the federal government and wealthy corporate-types got involved, I was stripped of these duties.”

According to records obtained through an open records request from the North Pole Times, the Naughty or Nice contract was apparently transferred to a cadre of MBA-educated gnomes in Miami, Florida in 2005.

Using five million dollars in grant money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the gnomes use an elaborate Microsoft computer system that updates each child’s Naughty or Nice rating five times an hour, all year around.

Several parent groups were upset recently when they were notified that the “Naughty or Nice” database had been sold to international conglomerate, Pearson Inc. A spokesman for Pearson claimed that the organization needed this information, “to create the next generation of super-duper academic assessments for children around the world.

Santa Inc. has reacted to the Elf strike by threatening to move its operations to virtual toy makers or to corporate charter facilities staffed by Toy Building for America (TBFA) dwarves and goblins willing to work harder and for lower pay than the elves.

Newly appointed Santa Incorporated lobbyist, Arne Duncan, asserts that these dwarves and goblins are just as effective as elves with hundreds of years of experience in toy-building.

This claim is based on Duncan’s claim that “these TBFA recruits receive five weeks of extensive training before making their first toy and are subject to continuous monitoring for their first two years on the job, after which point most of them quit anyway.”

Later that afternoon, Duncan was overheard being openly critical of elves with this comment captured by an open microphone, “They (elves) just need to face the reality that their toy making is just not as brilliant as they think it is.

This provoked an angry reaction from NPEA general secretary, Sugar Plum Mary, who condemned Duncan’s remarks by saying, “this is just more of the same bully boy management tactics we have been exposed to for years.”

Sugar Plum Mary also dismissed claims that the strike was just an attempt by Elves to avoid accountability for years of substandard toy production: “If you really take time to study the data, you will find that today’s toys are better built and more durable that toys built generations ago. The corporate reformers are trying to lock us into a 20th century model of toy production that doesn’t meet the needs of many children today. At the same time, we are trying to equip students to be productive users of toys in the rapidly changing 21st century.”

There is little sign of the strike being resolved soon as both sides seem entrenched in their positions. As one picketing elf said, “We are prepared to stay out for as long as it takes. Elves don’t do what we do for the money. It’s about the toys and the children we make them for.”

Alabaster Snowball concluded the press conference by pounding the podium and yelling: “Ultimately, we just want a little ELFIN respect!”

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