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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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I do hope you're right and it's just me being unreasonably negative.
Still, as the saying goes, there is no smoke without fire, and the fact that Paizo staffers attempts to unionize themselves, means that something's rotten in a state of Denmark.

4E being stellar example of modern design? It has been released in 2008, so you have a pretty relaxed standard of what constitutes modern :)
I dont think 4E is stellar modern design, but many folks do. In fact, the whole "modern design is objectively better" meme came out of 2008 E War. Apparently, not losing any steam in some circles either.

You are taking smoke from the north and assuming there is fire in the south.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I can see why you would feel that way.

The way I took the comment was more along the lines of the thinking that most writers should NOT be their own editors - they won't crop out stuff that needs cutting, won't let go of their one killer concept, etc. If the people reading the feedback are the same people who are deciding if any changes are made, then there's always a risk that no editing or changes will be made..

Not to open a can of worms by invoking Star Wars, but just consider the first 1977 film. Look at the reworking Lucas did due to comments made by his friends. Look at the way that the famous opening crawl is pretty legendary now - that was rewritten by Brian DePalma. And it's more than pretty good.
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?
 

I will say that I am curious as to what the "never trust Jessica Price" people have to say about this development. Because it sure seems that fallout from her twitter thread are what led to this development. I'm not even saying that her thread didn't involve a lot of her own interpretation, but it does seem that there was a push to dismiss all the allegations based on feelings people had about the person posting them.
The fact that the workers felt they needed to do this, makes all of the allegations against Paizo ring true and all of their promises to make things right suddenly seem hollow.

Best of luck to all the unionizing employees. I hope this all turns out for the best.

While I know that some of the people who came out in support of the whistleblowers did say that Price maybe attributed motive to things in a way she shouldn't have, her thread definitely helped break the silence about the problems going on there. And I do think that while it quieted down a bit in the community, plenty were still pushing for broader measures weeks afterward that I think showed that the community would be supportive of such measure. Given what's happened and what's come out, it'll be difficult to frame the community against this move.

All the talk about doing whatever the employees want because they deserve it sounds certainly nice, but the question is can Paizo afford it?
Patfinder 2E does not seem to go all that well, at least compared to 1E and Starfinder seems to do even worse.
And there was that recent uproar which also caused several people to stop buying Paizo (or rather cancel their subscription) because of various stuff.

I mean, it's still the #2 RPG out there by the sales stats we know. This whole narrative reminds me of the "Is 5E a failure?" stuff that was all around in 2015 and 2016. It seems to be more wishcasting than actual fact.
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Based on the know history of the company that's come out recently...the odds aren't great.

Whether a company is progressive on cultural issues and how they treat their workers overall are two often quite separate things.

Universities, for example, for all their (supposed) cultural sensitivity, often employ large numbers of adjuncts with low salaries and no benefits, not to mention overproducing PhDs (particularly in the arts and humanities) who then have little chance of finding a job.
 

Whether a company is progressive on cultural issues and how they treat their workers overall are two often quite separate things.

Universities, for example, for all their (supposed) cultural sensitivity, often employ large numbers of adjuncts with low salaries and no benefits, not to mention overproducing PhDs (particularly in the arts and humanities) who then have little chance of finding a job.

I mean, it's worth noting that Paizo released their Mwangi Expanse book, which was remarkably well-received, and their recent books have a good showing for different LGBTQ+ characters. There's a lot of push with the workers of the company to get that stuff in there. It's also why you have to be able to separate the progressiveness of the product from the company culture.
 

ruemere

Adventurer
I dont think 4E is stellar modern design, but many folks do. In fact, the whole "modern design is objectively better" meme came out of 2008 E War. Apparently, not losing any steam in some circles either.

You are taking smoke from the north and assuming there is fire in the south.
Umm. So you agree with me that PF2 seems dated, and that 4E is not "stellar modern design". Thank you.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
At Paizo, managers participate in creative process. You know their names, they also feature prominently on the covers of their products.
In other words, you have people who work both as creative staff and as senior management. Do you see the potential issue here?

Were the sacred cows in PF1 strongly opposed by Paizo designers?

Sacred cows were opposed by the community during playtest of first edition. They were not addressed in the PF1. They were not addressed in further releases of PF1.

I'm sure that it was only natural to follow maximum compatibility path with the corebook... however, the Advanced Player's Guide was a product that could have changed the scene. And it did not. Further products introduced a lot of small changes, but overall (the Pathfinder line of products for reference: List of Pathfinder books - Wikipedia) other game companies left Paizo behind.
Even better, 5E was released in 2014, and despite its flaws (and initially limited support) won away people from Pathfinder.
Paizo's creative response? Ultimate books in 2016 (i.e. more of the same) and similar. No real changes.

My guess is that the development followed the path set by the creative people in charge, and that deviations and experiments were not encouraged.

Pathfinder 2 does not seem to follow features of modern game design. So, either all Paizo devs love oppressive control and super minute details to the death, OR not all of them are happy with this, but they are not able to get the point across to those who do. The second option would be quite common for small companies with lack of balanced creative voice.

Who are the people PF2 is forced upon - players or other designers?

Er, no one. What a strange question is that, really. All I'm saying is that PF2 is a weird fish that could indicate a workplace with the lack of balance, and where younger/junior devs could need help.
I dunno - I think your analysis here is just odd. Whether or not some sacred cows were opposed by members of the community (or supported, because I remember Paizo actually retreated from some changes based on feedback as well) is utterly irrelevant to the relationship between management and staff at Paizo. They made their design based on their vision, presented it for the playtest, and then produced a final product that reflected a bit of both.
And then they pretty much managed it for about a decade with new releases until it was pretty clear they were running out of really interesting sourcebook material. So, obviously, they went to designing a new edition. Again, I don't see this as any kind of management flaw or problem - they successfully rode a game design that its original publisher assumed was played out for 10 more years.

I'm not a fan of PF2 either, but clearly their design staff is since that's what they came up with (no surprise with some 4e-hands working on it). It is, however, reasonably popular on the Paizo boards with at least a substantial segment of veteran PF players, so it's got that going for it, whether or not you find it a weird fish. And it's also picking up a segment of 5e players who are looking for something with more structure and crunch to it. It'll never have the same relative success of PF1 vs 4e, though, simply because 5e is seeing success levels 4e couldn't hope to dream about. But I seriously doubt that they're fighting against the tide of modern game design because it's not a single flow. Some games are opting for simplicity, others crunch, and others something in between and there's a reasonable market for all of that.
So, again, I don't really see how any of this reflects some problem between management and workers or bad culture over at Paizo. At the very least, I don't see how anyone could look at the game produced and deduce problems from it.
 

darjr

I crit!
I think I read that Paizo just hired some folks, news that went with the opening of their affiliate drive thru pdf store fronts.
 

JDragon

Explorer
I no longer really have a horse in this race since I walked away after trying PF2. I have plenty of PF1 material to last a very long time.

I hope for the sake of all the people that work there an amicable agreement can be found.

However, I just see the owners packing up this little experiment and finding something else to occupy their time.
 

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