Paizo Paizo Freelancers Support Union

Jason Tondro, senior developer for Pathfinder and Starfinder, has indicated that a large swathe of Paizo freelancers have stopped work in support of the recently formed union by Paizo employees.

Initially the freelance group had a range of demands, but in light of the new union, they have put forward one single new demand instead: to recognize the union.

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Today I want to shine a spotlight on UPW’s secret weapon: freelancers. Paizo’s freelancers are our ally in this fight and we’re helping each other. Here’s how:

Paizo’s business model is built on freelancers. Very few of the words in our publications are written in-house by full time employees on the clock. Instead, we outline projects, hire freelancers to execute those outlines, and develop and edit those manuscripts.

This allows a relatively small number of people (about 35, including art directors, editors, designers, developers, and more) to produce, well, everything. Have you seen our publication schedule lately? It’s LONG. And Paizo must publish new books to pay its bills.

Well, about a month ago, about 40 of Paizo’s most reliable, prolific, and skilled freelancers simply stopped working. In official parlance, this is called “concerted action.” In layman’s terms, it’s a strike without a union.

Some of these freelancers were in the middle of projects, with upcoming deadlines. Some of them had completed manuscripts they refused to turn over. Some were people we need to hire, to get scheduled books underway in time to publish. All of that FROZE.

Folks, Paizo can’t operate in that environment. We can’t just assign 10,000 word Org Play scenarios, 35,000 word SF adventures, 50,000 word P2 adventures to new, untested freelancers. And for many projects, it’s too late in the schedule to do that anyway.

Now, this group of freelancers had a specific list of demands. They wanted Paizo to hire a diversity officer, for example, and investigate recent terminations. But yesterday, they updated their demands: they’ll all come back to work if Paizo recognizes United Paizo Workers.

This is an enormous lever, and we at UPW are incredibly grateful to have it. Paizo can’t make its publication schedule without freelancers, and it can’t pay exec salaries without publications. But if they recognize our union, freelancers come back to work TOMORROW.

Sure, yes, contract negotiations will be long and trying for all involved. But Paizo will still get books out the door, it’ll be able to make its commitments and pay its bills and salaries. And during contract negotiation, we, the people who hire freelancers, can pay back.

In contract negotiation, we can fight for better pay rates for freelancers. We can get more time in the schedule, so writers have time to do their job right. We can get playtesting built into these schedules, which not only helps freelancers but creates better books.

Paizo’s freelancers and United Paizo Workers are working hand in hand. And I am so grateful, honored, and humbled to have that partnership.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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darjr

I crit!
Well that makes my post look pretty weird now!
Not any weirder than usual :)

it just kinda sank in. Over a month ago, but writing and development, so products that might not be out for, what, a year or two? Some I imagine are shorter term projects like the pathfinder society.

what happens if PFS dries up for a while?
 

Dausuul

Legend
No, but it's still before noon on Monday their time. Even assuming that the execs are friendly to the idea, I would assume they want to talk to lawyers to make sure they don't accidentally give away the homeworld, and that takes some time.
Bonus points for the B5 reference. :)
 

Retreater

Legend
Not any weirder than usual :)

it just kinda sank in. Over a month ago, but writing and development, so products that might not be out for, what, a year or two? Some I imagine are shorter term projects like the pathfinder society.

what happens if PFS dries up for a while?
Is PFS a big money-maker? I'd suspect it's a promotional tool to keep their biggest fans buying the latest products - which would be happening anyway.
Just change existing PFS modules to "repeatable," let the power gamers get extra credit for replaying adventures, and all will be well.
 

darjr

I crit!
Is PFS a big money-maker? I'd suspect it's a promotional tool to keep their biggest fans buying the latest products - which would be happening anyway.
Just change existing PFS modules to "repeatable," let the power gamers get extra credit for replaying adventures, and all will be well.
In my experience when someone turns to another public play campaign they tend to stick. I've been involved in quite a few, yea all small potatoes compared to PFS and AL but even between the two it's been true.

But I guess we'll see.

What is the turnaround on the PFS adventures?
 



Fergurg

Explorer
This looks like the end of Pathfinder!
Realistically, Paizo cannot afford a work stoppage and cannot handle the work and expense that being a union shop will be. It's a niche product in an industry that is known for making little money and its biggest competitor in that space, WotC, can run D&D at a loss.
 

Retreater

Legend
This looks like the end of Pathfinder!
Realistically, Paizo cannot afford a work stoppage and cannot handle the work and expense that being a union shop will be. It's a niche product in an industry that is known for making little money and its biggest competitor in that space, WotC, can run D&D at a loss.
They can shrink the business a bit temporarily. Everyone is delaying products these days due to shipping anyway.
If their freelancers work like any of my previous deals (granted not with Paizo), they are producing under contract, a contract that likely has deadlines. A couple calls from the staff (or their attorneys) will get those pipes unclogged.
In the meantime, they can hope that their newly established "fans write for Pathfinder" program (I forgot the name) will generate added income - and more importantly talent eager to produce material. Bring on some of those creators into their freelance circles.
It will take time, but I think they can batten down the hatches and survive. Or they can give in to the Union demands that don't cost much and can keep enough of the employees happy to nip the Union in the bud.
 

Staffan

Legend
This looks like the end of Pathfinder!
Realistically, Paizo cannot afford a work stoppage and cannot handle the work and expense that being a union shop will be. It's a niche product in an industry that is known for making little money and its biggest competitor in that space, WotC, can run D&D at a loss.
Again, if your business can't handle being unionized, treating your workers well and paying them a decent wage, you have no business being in business.
 


darjr

I crit!
Also I’d add that I doubt Paizo as a business is in any real trouble, I might be wrong but we’ll see.

I mean if they accept the Union. Rejecting it outright is a whole other plane of possibles
 

FoolishFrost

Adventurer
What really disappoints me is that this article has only gotten two pages of discussion, while articles dealing with “new shinies” have a half dozen. This seems like a fundamental change in the publishing landscape, and should noticed a more.

Facts are, if one union happens, others will follow. This could have widespread implications. With piezo already on its back foot from the original issues, it’s really possible for this to go the whole way.
 


darjr

I crit!
This is big news. RPG Folks I know that are oblivious to most of all internet things know about it. I think the debate and discussion is because this easily goes off topic and a collected held breath.

But that could be wishful thinking on my part.
 


FoolishFrost

Adventurer
Ah, my own fault. They both had the same icon image, and I never noticed they were no the same article. Sounds dumb, but when scrolling the news, it just hit me as item, item 5, item that’s a repeat of item 1…
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
What really disappoints me is that this article has only gotten two pages of discussion, while articles dealing with “new shinies” have a half dozen. This seems like a fundamental change in the publishing landscape, and should noticed a more.

Facts are, if one union happens, others will follow. This could have widespread implications. With piezo already on its back foot from the original issues, it’s really possible for this to go the whole way.
I'm a big pro-union guy but I really honestly doubt that. There's probably only like two other dedicated RPG publishers with enough actual non-freelancer staff that would make something like this viable. The vast majority of the operations out here are like, two guys (who often happen to be the owners) operating out of their home and a bunch of contracted freelancers.
 

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