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

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.
How do you propose to stop independent creators who have no need to earn a living at it from publishing RPG material?
 

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Staffan

Legend
How do you propose to stop independent creators who have no need to earn a living at it from publishing RPG material?
The RPG market is already basically split into three tiers (with some differentiation in the middle tier).

1. Wizards of the Coast.

2. Other RPG companies that are handled as serious businesses. Some are doing well, but even those that from the outside seem to be healthy often rely on underpaid employees and freelancers, often in what ought to be senior positions. As an example, Onyx Path Publishing seems to be a fairly solid publisher. But their release of Exalted 3e, after a hugely successful kickstarter, was seriously delayed because the guy they had as the primary developer got really sick, and since he was doing that on a freelance basis he had to run a GoFundMe to cover healthcare costs. And that was the line developer whose job it was to coordinate the other people writing the book. From a consumer point of view, these books are often polished and look good, so it's not easy to tell which companies are doing what behind the scenes.

3. Hobbyist stuff where the designer/publisher is basically doing things because it's fun, gives bragging rights, and might support their other gaming expenses. But they're not making a living from it – they usually have a day job (or a very understanding spouse) who pays the bills and, since most of them are in the US, makes sure they have health insurance.

What I'd like to see is the middle tier having prices raised across the board. That's probably going to cause some people to be more careful about where they spend their gaming budget, which will mean some companies will either leave the market or realize that they belong in tier 3.
 

The RPG market is already basically split into three tiers (with some differentiation in the middle tier)...

What I'd like to see is the middle tier having prices raised across the board. That's probably going to cause some people to be more careful about where they spend their gaming budget, which will mean some companies will either leave the market or realize that they belong in tier 3.
I expect that would just result in the middle tier losing market share to the 3rd tier.

Given kickstarter, desktop publishing tools, and the ready availability of freelancers to provide art and layout, independent publishers can publish RPG material of a comparable calibre to middle-tier publishers.

On my shelf beside me I have Call of Cthulhu 7th edition by Chaosium, a mid-tier publisher, and Shadow of the Demonlord by Schwalb Entertainment, which I’m guessing is a one-man show. To look at them (and play them), you wouldn‘t be able to tell one was published by a company that has a staff of something like 16, and the other by a creator/designer with some freelance help.

So I don’t think it’s likely customers will prove willing to pay more for a book by Chaosium than by Schwalb.
 

ruemere

Adventurer
"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.
There are two incredible scenes in Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson that immediately came to my mind.

The first one is meeting the bank. A guy in a room - no fancy offices, just a person you talk to.
Another one is the judge that adjudicates a case - another personal meeting, two short statements... and that's it, the sentence is passed.
 

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