Paizo Paizo Workers Unionize

The workers at Paizo, publisher of Pathfinder and Starfinder, have formed the United Paizo Workers union (UPW). The new union speaks of its love for the company, but cites a number of underlying issues including underpay, crunch conditions, and the recent allegations regarding the work environment made by former employee Jessica Price. They also bring up hiring practices, pay inequity, verbal abuse from management, and the covering up of harassment allegations.

The UPW is asking Paizo to recognize the union.

UPW Twitter Header.png


Redmond, WA (October 14th, 2021) — Today, the workers at Paizo, Inc - publisher of the Pathfinder and Starfinder roleplaying games - are announcing their formation of the United Paizo Workers union (UPW), with the Communication Workers of America’s CODE-CWA project. This union is the first of its kind in the tabletop roleplaying games industry.

“Unions have helped build a stronger working class in America and I’m proud to stand with United Paizo Workers. I believe that when we all work together, we’re better for it. Unionization allows workers to have a seat at the table and ensures that our voices and concerns are being heard and addressed so that all of Paizo can move forward for a positive future.” - Shay Snow, Editor

"I love my job. I love my coworkers, and I love the company I work for. I get to sell a game that I love to a community that I love. I come from a pro-union family, and I believe that unionizing Paizo will be the best way to protect the people, company, and community that I love, for now and going forward into the future." - Cosmo Eisele, Sales Manager

“My coworkers are amazing and so are the games we make together. I want Paizo to keep publishing Pathfinder and Starfinder content for years to come. This is my way of helping management improve our company culture, and by extension, the content we produce.” - Jenny Jarzabski, Starfinder Developer

“I proudly stand with my coworkers as we strive to help improve our workplace, and I believe the UPW will amplify our voices and assist with the changes we feel are necessary in making Paizo a more positive space for its employees.” - Logan Harper, Customer Service Representative

Paizo is one of the largest tabletop roleplaying publishers in the world, producing more than 10 hardcover books annually, along with numerous digital adventures and gaming accessories. Paizo also runs some of the most successful living campaigns in tabletop gaming history, with regular players in more than 36 countries. However, despite this success, Paizo’s workers are underpaid for their labor, required to live in one of the most expensive cities in the United States, and subjected to untenable crunch conditions on a regular basis.

Though efforts to organize by the Paizo workforce had already been underway for some time, the sudden departures of several long-standing employees in September and the subsequent allegations of managerial impropriety by former Paizo employees threw into stark relief the imbalance of the employer/employee relationship. These events, as well as internal conversations among Paizo workers, have uncovered a pattern of inconsistent hiring practices, pay inequity across the company, allegations of verbal abuse from executives and management, and allegations of harassment ignored or covered up by those at the top. These findings have further galvanized the need for clearer policies and stronger employee protections to ensure that Paizo staff can feel secure in their employment.

Changes have been promised, internally and externally, by the executive team. However, the only way to ensure that all workers’ voices are heard is collective action. It is in this spirit that the workers of Paizo have united to push for real changes at the company. The UPW is committed to advocating on behalf of all staffers, and invites all eligible Paizo employees to join in the push for better, more sustainable working conditions. The union requests the broad support of the tabletop community in urging Paizo management to voluntarily recognize the United Paizo Workers, and to negotiate in good faith with the union so that both may build a better workplace together.

For more information, please contact the Organizing Committee at committee@unitedpaizoworkers.org

Raychael Allor, Customer Service Representative

Brian Bauman, Software Architect

Logan Bonner, Pathfinder Lead Designer

Robert Brandenburg, Software Developer

James Case, Pathfinder Game Designer

John Compton, Starfinder Senior Developer

Katina Davis, Webstore Coordinator

David "Cosmo" Eisele, Sales Manager

Heather Fantasia, Customer Service Representative

Eleanor Ferron, Pathfinder Developer

Keith Greer, Customer Service Representative

Logan Harper, Customer Service Representative

Sasha "Mika" Hawkins, Sales and E-Commerce Assistant

Jenny Jarzabski, Starfinder Developer

Erik Keith, Software Test Engineer

Mike Kimmel, Organized Play Line Developer

Avi Kool, Senior Editor

Maryssa Lagervall, Web Content Manager

Luis Loza, Pathfinder Developer

Joe Pasini, Starfinder Lead Designer

Austin Phillips, Customer Service Representative

Lee Rucker, Project Coordinator

Sol St. John, Editor

Michael Sayre, Pathfinder Designer

Shay Snow, Editor

Alex Speidel, Organized Play Coordinator

Levi Steadman, Software Test Engineer

Gary Teter, Senior Software Developer

Josh Thornton, Systems Administrator II

Jake Tondro, Senior Developer

Andrew White, Front End Engineering Lead



In Solidarity:

Thurston Hillman, Digital Adventures Developer
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Jaeger

That someone better
I think the fact that Paizo hasn't indicated they are in financial trouble is at least a solid indicator.

It is an indicator of nothing.

Paizo has never been one to publicly air dirty laundry in any way.

Like their MMO:

2013 the kickstarter announcement to make it.

No other major announcements until 2015 - Announce big layoffs and transitioning to a new dev team...

2017 - a roadmap for the future development announced. Then...

No news or major announcements of any kind until 2021 - they shut it down.

Pazio only reports the positive - unless they are compelled by circumstances to do otherwise.

Just like they went radio silent now vs. The union and freelancers announcements.

If as people have speculated, Pazio's business model is built around their current pay structure, then I guarantee Pazio does not want to go union if they can help it at all...

IMHO right now they are running through various financial and legal scenarios how they can avoid unionization - and what that would look like for them coming out the other side.


Well, I liked these systems a lot more than PF1 and PF2, and their game prep was also smaller (while I agree that high level game prep for PF2 is surprisingly low when compared to PF1, I still feel that player-facing part requires too much effort). They are not necessarily superior, just less so overwhelmingly longwinded.

I fundamentally agree the PF2 is more streamlined than PF1 - But that is a natural progression of the type of game Pazio has been promoting since PF1. Not necessarily indicative of an 'oppressive culture' in and of itself.

Now if you want to discuss why I think in my all-wise 20/20 hindsight, that it was the wrong design direction for Pazio to go in... I'll be happy to on a different thread. But that thread won't win us many friends over here in the Pathfinder subforum.
 

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Who said "this is only a single incidence" other than you? No one. You're engaging in a straw man argument from a position of ignorance. I know way more about grocery distribution and the history of grocers and unions than you. That's a fact. I gave a single example knowing that's the best any of you could handle, and you still couldn't manage that. Should I talk about the history of Albertson's? Raley's? My boss and two coworkers in my office are both former Raley's employee whose DC was shut down by corrupt union meddling. How about we talk about Safeway? The DC I work at is a former Safeway DC that was closed down. You don't have resident knowledge in this topic at all. I have two decades.

Dude, I'm in an educational union. I've lived the difference between unionized and ununionized work. Your example of "My one job was killed by a union, while this other one grew without a union!" is anecdotal at best. Trying to apply that message to the Paizo Union completely ignores why they are organizing and what they are asking for. So please, step off your high horse and actually look at the situation that is being talked about.

Finally, Costco is not a standard grocer as customers are limited by subscription. Let's just leave it at that.

Yeah, sure bud.

It is an indicator of nothing.

Paizo has never been one to publicly air dirty laundry in any way.

Like their MMO:

2013 the kickstarter announcement to make it.

No other major announcements until 2015 - Announce big layoffs and transitioning to a new dev team...

2017 - a roadmap for the future development announced. Then...

No news or major announcements of any kind until 2021 - they shut it down.

Pazio only reports the positive - unless they are compelled by circumstances to do otherwise.

Just like they went radio silent now vs. The union and freelancers announcements.

I'm not just talking about their announcements, but also their actions: they were adding positions just this February. There's been no indication or sign of any sort of financial problems from anyone coming out of Paizo or any sort of side information.

If as people have speculated, Pazio's business model is built around their current pay structure, then I guarantee Pazio does not want to go union if they can help it at all...

IMHO right now they are running through various financial and legal scenarios how they can avoid unionization - and what that would look like for them coming out the other side.

Probably. I mean, as someone thread in the other thread, they probably don't want to tie themselves down to any statement because they are in an extremely bad position when it comes to this. The freelancer "strike" has been ongoing, their scandals forced them to promise changes, and now they are stuck with their workers unionizing publicly to rather popular support. I don't see a particularly easy way out here. Brian Bauman, one of the unionizers, goes over their own strategy here and it's obvious that they've thought about how they might try to break the ranks.

I fundamentally agree the PF2 is more streamlined than PF1 - But that is a natural progression of the type of game Pazio has been promoting since PF1. Not necessarily indicative of an 'oppressive culture' in and of itself.

Now if you want to discuss why I think in my all-wise 20/20 hindsight, that it was the wrong design direction for Pazio to go in... I'll be happy to on a different thread. But that thread won't win us many friends over here in the Pathfinder subforum.

Nah, it's cool. If you want to discuss different design issues on this forum, that's pretty alright. As long as you don't butt into every thread to proclaim how flawed things are and how you know the system better than the Devs who wrote the GMG, you'll probably be okay. ;)
 

Jaeger

That someone better
There's been no indication or sign of any sort of financial problems from anyone coming out of Paizo or any sort of side information.
I'm not just talking about their announcements, but also their actions: they were adding positions just this February. There's been no indication or sign of any sort of financial problems from anyone coming out of Paizo or any sort of side information.

And all I am saying is that it has never been Pazio's habit to report on such things unless compelled to by circumstances.

Re:

Probably. I mean, as someone thread in the other thread, they probably don't want to tie themselves down to any statement because they are in an extremely bad position when it comes to this.

IMHO we probably won't see much of anything from them until after the whole union thing goes to a vote.

Right now they are in a no-win PR situation.


Nah, it's cool. If you want to discuss different design issues on this forum, that's pretty alright. As long as you don't butt into every thread to proclaim how flawed things are and how you know the system better than the Devs who wrote the GMG, you'll probably be okay. ;)

Arguing the PF2 system specifics would be a waste.

My argument would be that they should have gone a different design direction entirely. But it is an unprovable hypothesis...

It is all too easy to speculate on what should have been done with other peoples time, money and resources. Especially without their internal data to look at.
 

Dude, I'm in an educational union. I've lived the difference between unionized and ununionized work. Your example of "My one job was killed by a union, while this other one grew without a union!" is anecdotal at best. Trying to apply that message to the Paizo Union completely ignores why they are organizing and what they are asking for. So please, step off your high horse and actually look at the situation that is being talked about.

Yeah, sure bud.
Of course you are, pal. It makes sense that someone in education is incapable of reading and comprehending what was actually written. I didn't work at Raley's, guy. That's not "my one job." I didn't work at Safeway, bud. That's not "my one job." I did watch Albertson's, Raley's, and Safeway close their doors, buddy. I did experience and analyze both the growth and decline of grocers in California over the past two decades, fella.

Here's a little help for you, Mr. Education. I'll highlight the important part so even someone in an educational union can read it:
I work at a job that is not union. I'm here along with many others because the union killed our previous company. My current company has grown ten fold since I've been here, replacing what was lost. Not even close to an exaggeration. We went from 50 stores to over 500 since I've been here.

So in your experience that's true. In mine, it's not. However, I'm not going to bother with that. I just don't think anything is saving Paizo.

Did you get it this time, guy?
 


And all I am saying is that it has never been Pazio's habit to report on such things unless compelled to by circumstances.

Not wrong. I'm really talking more about the totality of info coming out of Paizo.

Re:



IMHO we probably won't see much of anything from them until after the whole union thing goes to a vote.

Right now they are in a no-win PR situation.

Absolutely. But given the scandals, they can only blame themselves.

Arguing the PF2 system specifics would be a waste.

My argument would be that they should have gone a different design direction entirely. But it is an unprovable hypothesis...

It is all too easy to speculate on what should have been done with other peoples time, money and resources. Especially without their internal data to look at.

Honestly, I think that could be an interesting topic if not for other people who frequent this subforum...

Of course you are, pal. It makes sense that someone in education is incapable of reading and comprehending what was actually written. I didn't work at Raley's, guy. That's not "my one job." I didn't work at Safeway, bud. That's not "my one job." I did watch Albertson's, Raley's, and Safeway close their doors, buddy. I did experience and analyze both the growth and decline of grocers in California over the past two decades, fella.

Here's a little help for you, Mr. Education. I'll highlight the important part so even someone in an educational union can read it:


Did you get it this time, guy?

Yeah, and I'm sure your new non-union job totally is why your company is expanding like it is, like you implied from your post, and not other market forces. Which is why I countered with Costco, or I could counter with Meijer if you want something more traditional.

This whole line of reasoning lays out a classic anti-union line, and if you get offended by me trying to say that's not what always happens, I'm sorry. It's just tiring to hear people trying to unionize so that they don't have flagrant OSHA violations, random firings, or abuse from management, and hearing people go "Ah, but it might hurt the company!" If anything the company needs to stop hurting its employees first, and given that they've tried to get change other ways, your line is tiresome and completely unhelpful. There's a reason there was red-text as to what people think about unions earlier in the thread, but I guess you also missed that.
 


This whole line of reasoning lays out a classic anti-union line...
This line alone pins you as an ideologue.

Even after highlighting it you still fail to comprehend it. I never said I was "anti-union." In fact, I even said that unions do work and admitted that other experiences with unions working well are valid, something you pathologically can neither comprehend nor accept I ever said.
 

This line alone pins you as an ideologue.

Even after highlighting it you still fail to comprehend it. I never said I was "anti-union." In fact, I even said that unions do work and admitted that other experiences with unions working well are valid, something you pathologically can neither comprehend nor accept I ever said.

That's not me being an ideologue, that's me stating a fact about what kinds of arguments are used against unionization. I've listened to them for years. One can note this completely dispassionately.

Also, when did you say unions work? Your entry into this thread was commenting on how this was probably going to cause a budget spiral because Paizo wouldn't cover the pay increase they were likely asking for and rumere disagreeing. You say their experience might have been different, but you definitely weren't giving both sides there. And not that you need to, either, but let's be honest with what we were saying at the time.

It's not that I "pathologically can neither comprehend nor accept" what you said, it's just that I've heard it for years across many different companies that I suppose I'm skeptical of anyone who says it at this point, just like it's been said about raising wages for years. If you can't deal with skepticism, I don't know what to tell you.
 

That's not me being an ideologue, that's me stating a fact about what kinds of arguments are used against unionization. I've listened to them for years. One can note this completely dispassionately. Also, when did you say unions work? Your entry into this thread was commenting on how this was probably going to cause a budget spiral because Paizo wouldn't cover the pay increase they were likely asking for and rumere disagreeing. You say their experience might have been different, but you definitely weren't giving both sides there. And not that you need to, either, but let's be honest with what we were saying at the time.

It's not that I "pathologically can neither comprehend nor accept" what you said, it's just that I've heard it for years across many different companies that I suppose I'm skeptical of anyone who says it at this point, just like it's been said about raising wages for years. If you can't deal with skepticism, I don't know what to tell you.
I'm sure one, but you can't seem to. It's obviously you have years of pent up frustration and you need to let it go. You're not simply "stating facts" at all. Those 'years across many different companies' are rearing their ugly head and you're confusing them with "facts." Posturing resident knowledge about the history of grocers in California didn't work for you, and won't. You shouldn't have even tried it. You have no idea what you're taking about. That's why I said, and I have to repeat myself over and over again, "So in your experience, that's true. In mine, it's not." You're fighting a shibboleth right now, and you don't have to.

I'll clarify what I said before, I suspected that Paizo has money problems based on Jessica Price's description of Erik Mona's Extravagant Expenditures™, and Dickensian working conditions. Trips to New York ain't cheap. If even half of what she says is true then the management is wasting a lot money while the company is living on a shoestring. Why would I think Paizo has any money left over to pay their employees what their worth when management already spent it? The union is not going to pay Paizo's debts. And there's no guarantee that management's wasteful spending was illegal and therefore punishable. If there is misappropriation of company funds then they can easily force management out but if not then there's no hope for Paizo. And if they force them out will the new management fix it? No guarantees there. We don't know how bad their financials are.

What we're seeing here is an evil version what happened to TSR. Great games, brilliant minds, hard workers, the iconic founders of RPG gaming, and sadly none of them could run a company. The stories of TSR are long hours surrounded by clutter, feverishly packing boxed sets, and constantly juggling different jobs as writers, gamers, playtesters, artists, editors, marketers, and office workers. Infighting among workers and management. Friends becoming enemies (though there doesn't seem to be a lot of friendships in this one). And ultimately an RPG company failing. TSR was the only game in town when they failed. Paizo got rich off of the Edition Wars, but WotC ended that with 5e and won a lot of their customers back. I don't see anything saving Paizo in this market.
 

msDarkSage

Villager
While I understand the need, I generally am against unions.
Don't know USA laws about it, but in my country, while unions were very important for our prosperity in the past, currently we only see nightmarish situations they create, with their vast political power and lack of understanding of basic economics.
 

I'm sure one, but you can't seem to. It's obviously you have years of pent up frustration and you need to let it go. You're not simply "stating facts" at all. Those 'years across many different companies' are rearing their ugly head and you're confusing them with "facts." Posturing resident knowledge about the history of grocers in California didn't work for you, and won't. You shouldn't have even tried it. You have no idea what you're taking about. That's why I said, and I have to repeat myself over and over again, "So in your experience, that's true. In mine, it's not." You're fighting a shibboleth right now, and you don't have to.

Sure, I'm totally the one with the pent up frustration. Totally.

ScholarlySophisticatedBarb-size_restricted.gif


I'll clarify what I said before, I suspected that Paizo has money problems based on Jessica Price's description of Erik Mona's Extravagant Expenditures™, and Dickensian working conditions. Trips to New York ain't cheap. If even half of what she says is true then the management is wasting a lot money while also living on a shoestring. Why would I think Paizo has any money left over to pay their employees what their worth when management already spent it? The union is not going to pay Paizo's debts. And there's no guarantee that management's wasteful spending was illegal and therefore punishable. If there is misappropriation of company funds then they can easily force management out but if not then there's no hope for Paizo. And if they force them out will the new management fix it? No guarantees there. We don't know how bad their financials are.

Totally possible. Alternatively, maybe they're able to get away with such stuff because it's easier to in an industry that is niche, has few worker controls, and has a ready base of replacements ready to slot into a company. I don't think it's an exact comparison, but video game companies have similar problems of low pay, long hours, and little job security along with hours of crunch, as well as with similar problems with management. Those aren't necessarily about finance, but rather trends established by the industry allowing them to get away with such things.

Either way, having a union isn't going to be the thing that brings Paizo down. Bad management is bad management; if things are indeed in such bad straits, then the union does nothing to change the trajectory they are on. But if they aren't in bad financial straits, then unionizing means they can get the crucial worker protections they want and the company isn't going to be hurt by that.

What we're seeing here is an evil version what happened to TSR. Great games, brilliant minds, hard workers, the iconic founders of RPG gaming, and sadly none of them could run a company. The stories of TSR are long hours surrounded by clutter, feverishly packing boxed sets, and constantly juggling different jobs as writers, gamers, playtesters, artists, editors, marketers, and office workers. Infighting among workers and management. Friends becoming enemies (though there doesn't seem to be a lot of friendships in this one). And ultimately an RPG company failing. TSR was the only game in town when they failed. Paizo got rich off of the Edition Wars, but WotC ended that with 5e and won a lot of their customers back. I don't see anything saving Paizo in this market.

I don't think that the stuff described at Paizo has been described as being nearly as dire as what you are describing right now, unless I missed a Twitter thread. Is there anything that says they've been making disastrous financial decisions like TSR was, or are we just making very generalized connections?

Further, your read on the RPG market feels wrongheaded. Paizo losing the top spot doesn't mean that they're worse off than they were; Wizards' growth is not coming at the cost of anyone, but rather a massive expansion of the market itself. Like, you say "this market" as though things are tight, but they aren't; 5E is big enough that the bleed-off from it is a massive boon compared to the average entry from years past.
 

ECMO3

Hero
My guess is Paizo will be sold and leave Wisconsin and all those union workers behind.

The name and IP has value and in terms of new product the company has more value in a more business-friendly labor market. Sell the name and product line, take the profits and the new owners can set up shop in the south, west coast or overseas.
 



R_Chance

Adventurer
If these requests cannot be met, then Paizo as I said has bigger problems, because their business is not sustainable. That's managements problem, not the workers.
And no job is not a workers problem? Combine increased worker demands with supply chain difficulties (they print overseas iirc) and cost increases (besides wages / benefits) and people might be hunting jobs. I say might because, again we don't know.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
I think the fact that Paizo hasn't indicated they are in financial trouble is at least a solid indicator. More than that, though, is that one of the big reasons brought up in their own statement is stronger protections for workers when it comes to management abuses as well as in things like hirings and firings. Just concentrating on the financial side misses a lot of what they are actually asking for (as well as what's been revealed about Paizo for the last month).
Not many companies admit to financial issues. It brings too many business complications and questions about viability. That can impact things like preorders and subscriptions, both a big part of Paizo's business model. If you don't think regulations, investigations and procedures cost money... they do. Again, they may be able to do all this, or not. As for Paizo's reputation, it was always excellent. Until recently I gather, I'm not familiar with the latest there (I used to play Pathfinder 1E, subscribe, was active on the boards etc. a few years ago).

edit Justice and Rule; Sorry, I didn't see the mod notice above. I generally don't post if the other party can't reply...
 
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Staffan

Legend
My guess is Paizo will be sold and leave Wisconsin and all those union workers behind.

The name and IP has value and in terms of new product the company has more value in a more business-friendly labor market. Sell the name and product line, take the profits and the new owners can set up shop in the south, west coast or overseas.
RPG writing is a highly specialized technical skill, particularly for games as both crunchy and lore-heavy as Pathfinder and Starfinder. Good luck finding good writers and editors who are familiar with the material – particularly since a large portion of the potential replacement pool of freelancers have stated their support for unionization to the point where they are essentially on strike already.

Also, a move like that would alienate a large portion of their customer base. I, for one, would never buy anything from a hypothetical nuPaizo again.
 



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