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
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


log in or register to remove this ad


darjr

I crit!
Also I find it hard to believe that Paizo as a business is in any real danger of folding anytime soon. I might be wrong and we’ll see.
 

FoolishFrost

Adventurer
I don’t think Paizo would hire scabs or pressure people to cross a picket line.
Well, as they themselves have said, it’s not possible for them to do so, really. Game design and writing are very skilled labor, with a large part of the workload front loaded learning the tone of what your writing for, formats they want, and the background of the setting to make things line up.

Combine that with finding people who can produce on a schedule, not ghost halfway though a project, and similar basic needs….

The time to ramp that back up for replacement, wholesale, would be lethally expensive, and prone to failure.
 


ruemere

Adventurer
(in response to my post)
And this googling has uncovered Paizo's side of this? Revealed the financial status of the company? Uncovered the pay roll? Provided a reasonable look inside the business model? Provided a plan for adjusting their business model to accomplish this? No? My point is simple, we do not have the information needed to judge how reasonable the employee demands are or if the company can meet them. It would certainly be nice if they could. Preferably without shuttering the company. Time will tell. The obvious tactic of making "reasonable" demands in a vacuum is not giving those of us on the outside (perhaps including the employees) the information needed to come to a reasonable conclusion about this matter.
As an employee, I feel deeply moved by "subjected to untenable crunch conditions on a regular basis" (Paizo - Paizo Workers Unionize). This is backed by all people who signed the original petition.

WIRED, Tabletop RPG Workers Say Their Jobs Are No Fantasy
Sources say Paizo has offered $35,000 for full-time jobs based in the Seattle suburb of Redmond within the last three years, where the average monthly rent for an apartment is $1,768. (MIT calculates that the living wage for a single adult with no children in King County, Washington, is $40,705.) One person says he recently left the company in a leadership role after seven years making the equivalent of $39,000 a year on hourly wages. Other people who spoke to WIRED described making similar amounts over the past decade, and two sources say that the company’s benefits have gotten worse in that time.
“One of the jokes about Paizo is that the real benefit is first pick of all the freelance contracts,” says Crystal Frasier, who made less than $40,000 when she left in 2018 after nine years at the company.

I would like to emphasize that I am not calling for a pitchfork mob and public lynching. What I'm saying is that the case against current working conditions at Paizo Publishing is pretty solid.

Repairs are definitely possible. Paizo Publishing has still a large customer base, and a large business offer.
They just happen to need to work on their employee satisfaction levels - and not just by improving wages.

Oh, and I would like to make one thing painfully clear - overworking employees never worked well in the long term.
 

ECMO3

Hero
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.
I don't believe that and I also don't belive that it will alienate many people at all.

Very few people "buy union" today, most don't think twice about even buying foreign made products and the vast majority of new and trend-setting companies are not union. For example, the chance that you wrote your post above on an American made product are low and the chance you wrote it on union-made computer are near zero. FWIW I am posting on an ASUS laptop. It is a Chinese owned firm that uses non-union employees to assemble laptops in the USA.

I don't have a problem with unions, but I also don't think businesses with union employees are as competitive in the global market today.

As for specialized skills, I don't buy that either. There are a heck of a lot of RPG freelancers already selling products to Paizo or WOTC on a per job basis or even online at places like DMs guild. Just last month the IATSE union folks were saying the same thing to hollywood - specialized skills and all - membership voted 99% to strike in an attempt to get leverage with the hollywood studios and the companies didn't budge at all. Basically they told them go ahead and strike if you want.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
(in response to my post)

As an employee, I feel deeply moved by "subjected to untenable crunch conditions on a regular basis" (Paizo - Paizo Workers Unionize). This is backed by all people who signed the original petition.

WIRED, Tabletop RPG Workers Say Their Jobs Are No Fantasy



I would like to emphasize that I am not calling for a pitchfork mob and public lynching. What I'm saying is that the case against current working conditions at Paizo Publishing is pretty solid.

Repairs are definitely possible. Paizo Publishing has still a large customer base, and a large business offer.
They just happen to need to work on their employee satisfaction levels - and not just by improving wages.

Oh, and I would like to make one thing painfully clear - overworking employees never worked well in the long term.
I suspect almost all of us on these boards are "employees". Crunch time is a thing in a lot of industries. I am a teacher / instructor currently and my typical work week is 60 hours. I am teaching an overload and have for the last decade plus. When grades are due my week ramps up from there. It can get ugly. I am making a decent wage (although I took a pay cut to go into education) and the benefits are good. There is that. On the other hand I am still making less than a similar level of experience / education would earn outside teaching. I like the job. I took the job knowing that the pay would be less and the hours longer. I do the job. Not that better pay and fewer hours put in beyond 40 wouldn't be nice (we are salaried, no such thing as overtime although extra classes do add to the base pay). In fields where people want to do the job pay is often a bit lower.

To be clear, it would be nice if Paizo could afford more / improve conditions. If they can. We don't know. That is all I'm saying and have been saying.

We are unionized and our union has done an adequate job (not bad, not great) btw.

And overworking me has done OK for the District I work for :D
 

ruemere

Adventurer
I suspect almost all of us on these boards are "employees". Crunch time is a thing in a lot of industries. I am a teacher / instructor currently and my typical work week is 60 hours. I am teaching an overload and have for the last decade plus. When grades are due my week ramps up from there. It can get ugly. I am making a decent wage (although I took a pay cut to go into education) and the benefits are good. There is that. On the other hand I am still making less than a similar level of experience / education would earn outside teaching. I like the job. I took the job knowing that the pay would be less and the hours longer. I do the job. Not that better pay and fewer hours put in beyond 40 wouldn't be nice (we are salaried, no such thing as overtime although extra classes do add to the base pay). In fields where people want to do the job pay is often a bit lower.

To be clear, it would be nice if Paizo could afford more / improve conditions. If they can. We don't know. That is all I'm saying and have been saying.

We are unionized and our union has done an adequate job (not bad, not great) btw.

And overworking me has done OK for the District I work for :D
I'm glad things are going well for you, I'm also fine, and let's end it at that... well, maybe with this: Occupational Safety and Health standards are there for a reason.
 


TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
I think we should all want less crunch. In software and other highly skilled work (I consider game design highly skilled) crunch has pretty big negative impact on product quality. See the initial state of Cyberpunk 2077 for an example.
The state of Cyberpunk 2077 is not a product of crunch. It is a product of bad management and releasing an unfinished product. Crunch is also a product of bad management and unrealistic deadlines. But crunch itself, in a vacuum, doesn't lead to bad games.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I suspect almost all of us on these boards are "employees". Crunch time is a thing in a lot of industries. I am a teacher / instructor currently and my typical work week is 60 hours. I am teaching an overload and have for the last decade plus. When grades are due my week ramps up from there. It can get ugly. I am making a decent wage (although I took a pay cut to go into education) and the benefits are good. There is that. On the other hand I am still making less than a similar level of experience / education would earn outside teaching. I like the job. I took the job knowing that the pay would be less and the hours longer. I do the job. Not that better pay and fewer hours put in beyond 40 wouldn't be nice (we are salaried, no such thing as overtime although extra classes do add to the base pay). In fields where people want to do the job pay is often a bit lower.

To be clear, it would be nice if Paizo could afford more / improve conditions. If they can. We don't know. That is all I'm saying and have been saying.

We are unionized and our union has done an adequate job (not bad, not great) btw.

And overworking me has done OK for the District I work for :D
Fellow teacher here.

It is very common for teachers to put extra, unpaid time outside of their contracted 40 hours per week, despite the profession being heavily unionized.

And it's not an okay thing. Teacher burnout is a huge problem in the profession, as is attracting and retaining quality teachers. "Crunch Time" regardless of the industry, is a worker-unfriendly practice that does not lead to long-term benefits for anybody . . . the workers, the company, or towards the final product/service. It certainly doesn't improve student learning outcomes in public education.

Workers, in every industry, should unionize and fight for not only fair compensation and benefits, but reasonable working conditions like zero unpaid overtime (no "Crunch Time"). Just because one industry, education, has so far failed to materialize this, doesn't mean others shouldn't fight for it.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
The state of Cyberpunk 2077 is not a product of crunch. It is a product of bad management and releasing an unfinished product. Crunch is also a product of bad management and unrealistic deadlines. But crunch itself, in a vacuum, doesn't lead to bad games.
I would disagree that crunch doesn't lead to bad outcomes. When your employees are regularly expected to put in extra "crunch time", especially if it is unpaid . . . . you get overworked, stressed, unhappy, angry workers who become less efficient, less effective, and sometimes even willing to sabotage the final product in their anger and frustration and being poorly treated. Crunch leads to burnout, less effective employees, and higher turnover (with associated turnover costs).

Crunch time is not a separate thing from bad management, but an aspect of it. Not the sole aspect, but an important one. It's short term thinking that sabotages long term effectiveness in any industry.
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
Crunch time is not a separate thing from bad management, but an aspect of it. Not the sole aspect, but an important one. It's short term thinking that sabotages long term effectiveness in any industry.
That's exactly what I said. The issue is bad management. Crunch is a consequence of it. As are bad decisions like releasing your game when it's far from being a finished product. Extreme crunch will absolutely destroy your team's morale and will eventually hinder the product. But once again, crunch comes from bad management; nobody crunches for no reason. No team has ever crunched before they did not work hard enough before.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
I'm glad things are going well for you, I'm also fine, and let's end it at that... well, maybe with this: Occupational Safety and Health standards are there for a reason.
If they were violating OSHA standards that agency or it's state equivalent would be having long conversations with them. Hopefully anyway. Unfortunately unpleasant work conditions, low pay (well, under minimum wage is covered), the lack of reasonable benefits, and even over work are not covered except in limited ways... theoretically the market or unions deal with that. Which brings us back to unionization and whether or not it can, practically, improve things for the employees there. To which I say, we don't have the information to make a valid judgement.

Now, time to go back to working on a test, and grading papers :D This was my break...
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
Fellow teacher here.

It is very common for teachers to put extra, unpaid time outside of their contracted 40 hours per week, despite the profession being heavily unionized.

And it's not an okay thing. Teacher burnout is a huge problem in the profession, as is attracting and retaining quality teachers. "Crunch Time" regardless of the industry, is a worker-unfriendly practice that does not lead to long-term benefits for anybody . . . the workers, the company, or towards the final product/service. It certainly doesn't improve student learning outcomes in public education.

Workers, in every industry, should unionize and fight for not only fair compensation and benefits, but reasonable working conditions like zero unpaid overtime (no "Crunch Time"). Just because one industry, education, has so far failed to materialize this, doesn't mean others shouldn't fight for it.
I fully agree. I just don't see it changing too much unless the public has an epiphany and decides to pay us more / hire more teachers / lower class size etc. The public tends to think we are overpaid and underworked. And educational administration counts on people who want to do the job, and are therefore willing to suffer the conditions.

edit I'm still playing hooky... time to find the worker drone in me :D
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
I fully agree. I just don't see it changing too much unless the public has an epiphany and decides to pay us more / hire more teachers / lower class size etc. The public tends to think we are overpaid and underworked. And educational administration counts on people who want to do the job, and are therefore willing to suffer the conditions.

edit I'm still playing hooky... time to find the worker drone in me :D
The public sees the multiple layers of Administration that absorb most of our School Tax money before it gets to the classroom. So far there is no good answer how to distinguish (from outside) between needed management and squandering of resources.

Some time soon now this tangent will move into No Politics territory, so I will refrain from elaborating in detail.
 

Flip side - if your company is not able to pay decent wages for reasonable levels of work, should you continue as a company? I mean, isn't that a reasonable definition of "failure" of a corporation?
And if that means every RPG publisher except WotC closes up shop? Again, it’s not a given that there’s a viable market for RPG books priced at a level that supports secure middle-class livelihoods for creators.

Maybe Morrus can give us an update in a year or so and tell us if Advanced 5th Edition makes him enough to live off without the revenue from this site and whatever other sources of income he has.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
And if that means every RPG publisher except WotC closes up shop?

"Shop," in terms of being a traditional company with a physical office space and a bunch of permanent employees, perpetually and continually supporting a brand, you mean? Then they find a new business model, like Morrus has. As we've seen from the Wired article, the overwhelming majority of the actual creative writing is being done by freelancers anyway. If the creators, the ones who actually create the value, are freelance, maybe the whole organization should be.

Again, it’s not a given that there’s a viable market for RPG books priced at a level that supports secure middle-class livelihoods for creators.

Exactly. If there isn't a viable market for it, we should not pretend there's a viable market for it. Maybe we shouldn't be rewarding company owners who are not actually creating stuff with higher payoffs than everyone else involved.

Maybe Morrus can give us an update in a year or so and tell us if Advanced 5th Edition makes him enough to live off without the revenue from this site and whatever other sources of income he has.

As above, it may be the market does not support long-term revenue from one product line. Morrus may establish himself as an effective leader of successful projects - and support himself with a string of those projects, which may not be all in the same brand line. Rather than force A5E to be his one thing, he gets to go where the wind blows.
 
Last edited:

Staffan

Legend
And if that means every RPG publisher except WotC closes up shop? Again, it’s not a given that there’s a viable market for RPG books priced at a level that supports secure middle-class livelihoods for creators.
There's definitely a market. Will it support as many products released? Probably not. But I would rather see a smaller RPG market that actually supports those working within it than one that pays its workers sub-living wages.
 

Visit Our Sponsor

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top