Santa Claus’ Team Joins Union
North Pole. In a surprise move St. Nicholas, founder and CEO of the international Christmas Eve delivery service known as Whiskers & Company, announced today that henceforth the Teamsters will represent all North Pole reindeer. In a short press conference Nicholas noted that “to remain competitive we simply had no choice but to allow the union to represent our people in any contract negotiations. It was clear that we could not successfully continue to be the only major distribution and delivery service that did not have union representation.”
The unionization announcement comes just two weeks after a decision was reached in the government’s monopoly case against Whiskers & Company. That ruling found the company guilty of monopolizing control of all facets of Christmas Eve distribution and delivery. Santa Claus, Chief of North American operations for Whiskers & Company, expressed his disappointment with the ruling. “It was never our desire to seek monopoly control the Christmas Eve gift delivery industry. We simply wanted to make sure every child received something nice on time on Christmas Eve.”
Taken together these two decisions will probably create far reaching changes in what has been the long standing tradition of Christmas Eve gift delivery and distribution system.
The court has already made it clear that in the future all letters, cards and notes carrying the designation “From Santa” and “To Santa” will fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Postal Service. And, it would appear that wrapped package delivery responsibility will be shared between Whiskers & Company, UPS and FedEx at the very least. What’s not clear is whether same night Christmas Eve delivery will be guaranteed, whether delivery damage will be reimbursed and whether residential entrance will still be down the chimney. As one concerned parent noted: “It just won’t seem the same if a uniformed, clean shaven man driving a brown or white step-van knocks on the door during the day and asks a child to sign for delivery. The magic just won’t be there.”
The full impact of the new union agreement probably won’t be fully realized until the Christmas season of 2000, although company and union officials have already negotiated basic provisions for job security, retirement programs and better working conditions. Prancer, reindeer representative and lead union negotiator, pointed out that “people just don’t realize how difficult this job really is. We fly low oxygen altitudes, at very high speeds, pulling very heavy payloads, often for as long as 34 hours without a break. This is a high stress job and we should be compensated for it.” Comet, another union representative, added that “while this is physically demanding work we have never had the job security and retirement benefits enjoyed by our counterparts at UPS and FedEx. Even postal workers have had better protection in the past.”
Experts agree that one likely result of the new union contract and the recent court decision may be a downsizing effort on the part of Whiskers & Company. “It only stands to reason” argues Clement Moore, professor of Greek and Oriental Languages at the General Theological Seminary. “Fewer gifts to distribute and fewer delivery stops to make simply means you need a smaller sleigh and fewer reindeer. It’s the only way to remain profitable in an increasingly competitive environment.” St. Nicholas denies that they will downsize the reindeer base as a way of remaining competitive. “These deer have been with us since the beginning of our American operation. They’re part of our company family and we will not unfairly push them out into the cold.” Santa Claus is a bit more cautious. “Any effort to restructure as a way of maintaining profitability will not start with our delivery and distribution employees. And long before that becomes a necessary step we will implement early retirement and job retraining programs.”
When asked what they would do if downsizing were imminent, union members were quick to respond. “Look, I have the least seniority and my only skill is in my nose,” said Rudolph, lead reindeer. I don’t see what a job retraining program is going to do for me.” Dancer, harness partner to Prancer, was not quite so discouraging in his outlook: “I’m going on almost 180 years of service to Santa Claus, and I might be interested in an early out retirement offer. It would be nice to spend Christmas Eve at home for a change.”
This is not the first time Whiskers & Company has faced competition for market share. Some years ago, when the European Division was under the leadership of now retired Father Christmas, an up-and-coming competitor, P.R.I. (Protestant Reformation International) launched an extensive media campaign to attract investors. Martin Luther, sales and marketing spokesman for P.R.I., built his advertising strategy on the idea that Nicholas’s day was “full of childishness and falsehood”. The campaign successfully eroded Whiskers & Company’s market share and distribution and delivery dropped by over 50% worldwide. In fact, it was not until the introduction of the American division, headed by Santa Claus, that Whiskers & Company set about regaining its market share.
Today the company is a premiere world wide distribution and delivery service operating one night each year. During the 31-hour delivery period (extended delivery time because of the rotation of the earth) Whiskers & Company currently distributes and delivers to 380 million children in 108 million homes. A privately owned non-profit company with major divisions in both North America and Europe, both Whiskers & Company and its sister company Christmas Inc. are part of Winter Festivals Internationale.
by Craig Hosterman