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

willrali

Explorer
If the unionize it will encourage other companies to go contract labor to avoid the same issue.

Also not sure what thier profit margins are but I imagine they are shrinking. Union would cut into that even more. A unionization could be a nail in the coffin.
WoTC is the biggest player and they already use almost completely freelance labor. Their number of actual employees is tiny
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
We do have federal laws that protect the rights of workers to unionize
I'm certainly no expert, but do the federal government also protect workers that get pressured into never asking for unionizing in the first place...?

I mean, there's a loophole here. If you instead simply assume any corporation that hires un-unionized (if there's a better term, feel free to tell me; not a native English-language speaker here. I do feel fairly certain the opposite of unionize is not ionize :p) is dodgy, you automatically avoid controversies like with Amazon recently.

I mean, when you have to check the date to make sure events are happening in 2021 and not in, say, 1921 something is... "quaint" (to quote myself from earlier) :)
 

I'm certainly no expert, but do the federal government also protect workers that get pressured into never asking for unionizing in the first place...?

I mean, there's a loophole here. If you instead simply assume any corporation that hires un-unionized (if there's a better term, feel free to tell me; not a native English-language speaker here. I do feel fairly certain the opposite of unionize is not ionize :p) is dodgy, you automatically avoid controversies like with Amazon recently.

I mean, when you have to check the date to make sure events are happening in 2021 and not in, say, 1921 something is... "quaint" (to quote myself from earlier) :)

I've mostly seen 'nonunionized' or 'non-unionized'. Yeah, it does look a double negative for 'ionized'. English has never been the most logical language.

Most Americans are not unionized, so it wouldn't work that way. (What country do you live in, if you are willing to say?) Some people might even go 'why should they get something I don't'?

The USA is well known for having much weaker rights for workers than other rich countries (likely as a result). There is no guaranteed paid time off or holiday, no mandated worker break during the day (thus Amazon can closely monitor employees' time to the point they void in bottles), no guaranteed paid parental leave, no guaranteed overnight pay premium, no guaranteed severance pay, and a relatively low minimum wage.

Great country to start a business, not so much to work for one.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'm certainly no expert, but do the federal government also protect workers that get pressured into never asking for unionizing in the first place...?
What kind of pressure are you talking about here?

mean, there's a loophole here. If you instead simply assume any corporation that hires un-unionized (if there's a better term, feel free to tell me; not a native English-language speaker here. I do feel fairly certain the opposite of unionize is not ionize :p) is dodgy, you automatically avoid controversies like with Amazon recently.

The word you're looking for is non-union here. I can't automatically assume a company with non-union labor is dodgy. I happen to work for what I think is a decent company that pays fairly well for our market, engages in ethical & legal hiring practices, is committed to provide a pleasant work environment free from harassment, and was quick to send 90% of its workers home in the face of the COVID pandemic in 2020. I'm located in the southern part of the United States and historically speaking union activity has been rather sparse. And remember, those Amazon workers rejected the union. I don't know if that was the best choice for them to make but it was their choice.

I mean, when you have to check the date to make sure events are happening in 2021 and not in, say, 1921 something is... "quaint" (to quote myself from earlier)

When we start seeing the Pinkerton's sending hired goons with clubs to break up union events get back to me.
 

Jaeger

That someone better
It's not really a cash problem. Even if they had oodles of cash, no business can afford to lose so much of their workforce at one time because it'll shut down their business and nothing will get done. You can't just hire a bunch of people and expect them to be productive as it takes time for them to get into the swing of things.

In 1981 Regan fired around 11,000 Air traffic controllers, called in the scabs, and no planes fell out of the sky because of it.

First: I would be blown away if Pazio went to the nuclear option.

Second: If they had the cash to pay the bills for several months they could do it - it would involve a serious slashing of their release schedule, and they would have to slowly build back up. They would be sucking saltwater for a year or so, and it would not be pleasant. But that would require them to have a ton of cash at the ready. Highly unlikely.

Third: Another nuclear option is for the executives to get their personal finances in order - fire everyone, and have Pazio publishing file for bankruptcy. This would allow them to rebuild with a more or less clean slate. But they would not be the same company coming out of that.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
In 1981 Regan fired around 11,000 Air traffic controllers, called in the scabs, and no planes fell out of the sky because of it.
President Reagan was dealing with an already-existing union, not an effort to start a new union.
The situations do overlap, but I think not enough to make a good analogy. Neither Paizo nor the employees have "infinite" resources compared to each other, so neither can adopt scorched-earth tactics.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
And we seem to be back to just discussing unions in general, despite my warning earlier in the thread. I repeat, this is not the place for that conversation. Those who continue to discuss US politics or unions in a general sense will be asked to leave the thread. Keep the conversation to this union, please.
 

nevin

Hero
In 1981 Regan fired around 11,000 Air traffic controllers, called in the scabs, and no planes fell out of the sky because of it.

First: I would be blown away if Pazio went to the nuclear option.

Second: If they had the cash to pay the bills for several months they could do it - it would involve a serious slashing of their release schedule, and they would have to slowly build back up. They would be sucking saltwater for a year or so, and it would not be pleasant. But that would require them to have a ton of cash at the ready. Highly unlikely.

Third: Another nuclear option is for the executives to get their personal finances in order - fire everyone, and have Pazio publishing file for bankruptcy. This would allow them to rebuild with a more or less clean slate. But they would not be the same company coming out of that.
The cost of flights went through the roof because Airports couldn't control as many planes. There were long term issues caused by the firing of the AirTraffic controllers. That being said they got fired because they were under federal law as necessary employees for the country to function. they were told to go back to work while they negotiated and they refused. It cost so much long term in economic damage that I doubt you'll see a president do it again in our lifetimes. Not in a transportation industry.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The cost of flights went through the roof because Airports couldn't control as many planes. There were long term issues caused by the firing of the AirTraffic controllers. That being said they got fired because they were under federal law as necessary employees for the country to function. they were told to go back to work while they negotiated and they refused. It cost so much long term in economic damage that I doubt you'll see a president do it again in our lifetimes. Not in a transportation industry.
OK, that's one. I feel I was clear. Please leave the thread. Who's next?
 

Argyle King

Legend
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 would agree with not being a fan of PF 2's design (because I'm not).

However, I don't see it as universally true that "modern" design or light games are inherently better and/or somehow indicative of a company's corporate structure.
 

Organized workers do not guarantee a successful business. I suspect that Paizo doesn't have the money to improve worker pay and will probably start the layoffs immediately to meet those demands. Then, in a few years, Paizo will be gone. The problem isn't the talent. They have good products. The problem is the management, the way they conduct business. When management fails so does the company.
 

ruemere

Adventurer
The rules lite systems you cited are no more ‘modern’.
Er, the systems I have quoted were to prove that at the time Paizo published their milestone products, there were other systems on the market that were more in tune with design tendencies.

For recently released examples of modern fantasy design:
(and many, many others)

The key differences:
1. Shorter GM preparation time.
2. Shorter Player introduction time.
3. Meaningful tactical choices backed by (usually) lower mechanical complexity.

All of them are recent, all of them are pretty good (I am partial to games I run/prepared to run/preparing to run: Whitehack 3E, CortexPrime hack, Vaesen, and Achtung Cthulhu).
 

ruemere

Adventurer
Organized workers do not guarantee a successful business. I suspect that Paizo doesn't have the money to improve worker pay and will probably start the layoffs immediately to meet those demands. Then, in a few years, Paizo will be gone. The problem isn't the talent. They have good products. The problem is the management, the way they conduct business. When management fails so does the company.
Unions do not kill businesses. They are there to improve working conditions (and frankly, in the time of COVID pandemic, many companies were initially rather lacking in this regard).

The Paizo union initiative is a clear and well-thought appeal for reasonable treatment of people - and all people participants are staking their livelihood on this, so please, do acknowledge their effort.

Please read their FAQ before commenting further:

TLD;DR:
They are NOT advocating for a strike, product boycott, etc. While there is no public statement that would list their requests, they are not threatening anyone.
 


Unions do not kill businesses.
I work at a job that is not union. I'm here along with many others because the union killed our previous company. My current company has grown ten fold since I've been here, replacing what was lost. Not even close to an exaggeration. We went from 50 stores to over 500 since I've been here.

So in your experience that's true. In mine, it's not. However, I'm not going to bother with that. I just don't think anything is saving Paizo.
 

Er, the systems I have quoted were to prove that at the time Paizo published their milestone products, there were other systems on the market that were more in tune with design tendencies.

For recently released examples of modern fantasy design:
(and many, many others)

The key differences:
1. Shorter GM preparation time.
2. Shorter Player introduction time.
3. Meaningful tactical choices backed by (usually) lower mechanical complexity.

All of them are recent, all of them are pretty good (I am partial to games I run/prepared to run/preparing to run: Whitehack 3E, CortexPrime hack, Vaesen, and Achtung Cthulhu).

I'm sorry, I find this to be BS. That certain games are less complex doesn't mean that there aren't modern games that are as or more complex than PF2. Lancer and the FFG narrative RPGs are absolutely similar complexity levels, perhaps not directly but definitely in their own ways.

Really, it seems like your idea of "complexity" is just having a whole bunch of feats, which misses that you generally aren't interacting with all or even the vast majority of those feats during play: instead, you're only interacting with a fraction of a percent because most are siloed off by proficiency, class, heritage, etc.

Further, the streamlining of things such as the action economy absolutely makes things simpler than even some less complex games: the 3-Action economy is much simpler and more immediately intelligible than Action-Bonus Action-Move, because there aren't artificial delineations between a quicker action and a regular one. Similarly it's simpler to have everyone have the option to attack 3 times, but have it utility drop off rapidly, than to have certain classes gain the ability to attack more for a single action, since that can create weird interactions when someone gets an extra action versus an extra attack.

Really, the complexity of PF2 is oversold. It has a lot of stuff, but it's streamlining cuts down on inadvertent complexities than can come with "simpler" game design, like the weird 5E Meta around multiclassing.

I work at a job that is not union. I'm here along with many others because the union killed our previous company. My current company has grown ten fold since I've been here, replacing what was lost. Not even close to an exaggeration. We went from 50 stores to over 500 since I've been here.

So in your experience that's true. In mine, it's not. However, I'm not going to bother with that. I just don't think anything is saving Paizo.

17c.png
 

nevin

Hero
Organized workers do not guarantee a successful business. I suspect that Paizo doesn't have the money to improve worker pay and will probably start the layoffs immediately to meet those demands. Then, in a few years, Paizo will be gone. The problem isn't the talent. They have good products. The problem is the management, the way they conduct business. When management fails so does the company.
I think the problem is more fundamental than that. This issue has made public that the majority of Paizo's content is made by contractors or freelancer's who if they use standard industry practices are probably paid a pittance compared to what the products bring in. For the first time since the mid 90's the job market has flipped in workers favor. If Paizo has to pay the employees who are simply managing the products they are getting from the contractors more, then their entire business model is based on people generating product for almost no pay. It's starting to look a lot like the newspaper industry. If they aren't including the content creators in the fair pay model, this job market could suck them all away very easily.
 

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