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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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.
 

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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.

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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.
 



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.
 

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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