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...

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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JThursby

Adventurer
I was actually surprised to learn that there wasn’t a union for TTRPG‘s in general. It shouldn’t be based per company, it should be an industry wide platform.
I’m not so sure. The Paizo Union understands exactly what it wants and what needs to change. They have a pretty specific set of demands. Why should Paizo employees make their needs and priorities subordinate to the separate circumstances of others? Forming this union is already a measured risk, runaway scope expansion is an easy way for the whole endeavor to fail. They should only consider it once accomplishing their main goals.
 

A lot of people don't like to hear things like this. But, hey, no company, no need for a union. What the company can afford is a good question. They might end up with a union and find out what they have is the most they'll get.
The assumption around these cases always seems to be that ownership makes heaps of profit off the business and this sort of action will just mean they’ll make a little less. But the truth is these types of creative boutique businesses typically operate on the margins of profitability, and it doesn’t take much to tip them into being unviable.

The notion that there must be a way for tabletop RPGs to publish products at prices that consumers will pay while providing staff a secure middle-class livelihood betrays naïveté about how small businesses operates in the real world.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
As far as I understand the current complaints started with a LGBT issue about a trans employee not being allowed to room with a cis employee and thus couldn't go to conventions (as Paizo mandates double occupancy for hotel rooms). But once there was an initial complaint some flood breaks broke down and all kinds of complaints where thrown around from the ones about ignored complaints, that the office was not cleaned to the downright conspiracy theories about nazi memberships of employees based on far fetched connections to pictures on that employees wall.
Not a conspiracy theory or far-fetched, it was a picture of a racist guy with the Iron Cross on it. He even tweeted a Swastika once. It's not hard to think, "hey, my co-worker might be racist, based on that racist imagery that they have displayed in the office and posted online". The guy who had done that has since apologized and given some fairly believable explanations about the situation, but it's understandable how people were offended by that.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
A lot of people don't like to hear things like this. But, hey, no company, no need for a union. What the company can afford is a good question. They might end up with a union and find out what they have is the most they'll get.

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?
 

How are we getting here though? Its like saying Lucas made folks use a punch card machine to clock in for their shifts while filming star wars. Thats why the opening sequence was so great. What?
My point was that in 1977, George Lucas, even as this great rising-star director, had people that stepped in and trim and help shape things. Come 1999, Lucas had full hand on the rudder. This tied in with the comment or sentiment that if the people with editorial control at any gaming company, Paizo or not, have control over what goes into the next iteration - if the same people see no reason to change the mechanics for example, they won't take any feedback gathered from the players.

To use another anecdote: there are a lot of people who feel, in the name of Modern Design, D&D needs to change the six basic stats, and the response currently coming back has been 'It's not D&D without Strength/Intelligence/Wisdom/Dex/Con/Charisma (sorry, I'm an old player)
 

MGibster

Legend
I’m not so sure. The Paizo Union understands exactly what it wants and what needs to change. They have a pretty specific set of demands. Why should Paizo employees make their needs and priorities subordinate to the separate circumstances of others? Forming this union is already a measured risk, runaway scope expansion is an easy way for the whole endeavor to fail. They should only consider it once accomplishing their main goals.
And it's not like the Paizo Union couldn't become associate members of a broader RPG union in the future. Plenty of unions are actually local affiliates who are part of or allied with a larger national organization.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
And it's not like the Paizo Union couldn't become associate members of a broader RPG union in the future. Plenty of unions are actually local affiliates who are part of or allied with a larger national organization.

To be fair... are there any broader RPG unions?

And if they're aren't, there's a strong possibility that Paizo will squelch this union (it's not recognized now). Most unions in the US fail before being formed.
 

What I also find interesting in this situation is...

My understanding of the tabletop industry is that while there are corporations, a pretty sizable amount of the work done (especially for non-Wizards companies) is done by contractors. Yes, your design team (mechanical or artistic) and your brand management are in-house to steer the ship, but the work largely comes from people they're paying - largely people who have been successful on other projects, can hit deadlines, and coming in at a reasonable rate.

I wonder if this will tip it more towards contract workers as to in-house. Will companies also ditch large campuses and adopt more WFH post-pandemic, also as a way to shore up profitability? (I say that as someone who works in a largely empty building for a corporation, a building that was largely empty pre-Covid)
 

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