Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa's Elves and Paid Sick Days

It was the week before Christmas in the North Pole. There were toys everywhere in Santa's factory. Dozens of elves dressed in red costumes and bright green tights smiled while they wrapped the toys.

Mrs. Claus entered the room. She clapped her hands twice and said, "Elves, I have an announcement."

The elves looked up and stopped wrapping the toys.

"I just got off the phone with the head elf in the San Francisco factory. It has too many orders for food baskets. There's no way they'll finish in time before Christmas. So we'll be doing some of the baskets here."

The elves were silent for a few seconds. Sandra who was the leader of the elves said, "We have never done food baskets before. Why are we doing them now?"

"Sandra, we're in a recession. Instead of toys, a lot of kids in California are asking for food baskets for their families," Mrs. Claus answered.

"When did we open a factory in San Francisco?" Sandra the elf asked.

"A few months ago, Santa and I decided that we needed to expand our operation because lots of families would need our help. As you know, Santa and I always have believed in workers' rights. We chose San Francisco because it has paid sick days for workers," Mrs. Claus answered.

"I thought everyone had paid sick days," Sandra the elf said. "We've had paid sick days in the North Pole forever."

"San Francisco is the only city in California that has a paid sick days' ordinance. In California, there are six million workers who don't have paid sick days. It's not fair that workers have to choose between losing pay and their health or their children's health," Mrs. Claus answered.

Are there people who go to work sick and handle food?" Sandra the elf asked.

"Yes, that happens a lot," Mrs. Claus answered.

"That's gross," someone shouted.

"Yuck," another elf said. "Could imagine the number of complaints we would get if sick elves made food baskets?"

"We'd get a lot," Mrs. Claus responded. "We're in the business to make people happy on Christmas day. We definitely don't want to get kids and their families sick."

Mrs. Claus continued, "I know you all know about our policy on paid sick days but I want it clear. If you get sick or one of your family members get sick, please stay home. We want to make sure that you take care of yourself and your family members. We don't want you coming to work and infecting the other elves or anyone else."

The elves nodded their heads.

"Does anyone have any other questions?" Mrs. Claus asked.

"No, I'm just glad that we have paid sick days," Sandra the elf said. "It protects us and our families. And it protects the public as well."

"Great," Mrs. Claus said. "Well, let's all get back to work and start working on the food baskets. I'm making homemade chocolate for dessert."

"Yum-yum," the elves said in unison.

For more information about paid sick days, visit 9to5 California's Web site.


  1. Now that Milwaukee will have paid sick days, I am sure Santa's elves can open a factory there to send help to Chicago! Congratulations to Milwaukee 9to5 Working Women for spearheading this successful campaign in Wisconsin!

  2. The current issue of The Black Commentator has a cartoon with a slightly different "spin" on this story:


  3. My Silicon Valley employer combined vacation and sick into one bucket that is 1/3 less than I've ever received. Their mandatory company closure the last two weeks of December wiped out my account so now I have zero vacation or sick leave. It seems unjust that people come to work sick, exposing their coworkers who get sick and we can't take time off without our pay being docked.