Pathfinder, Starfinder publisher voluntarily recognizes workers’ union

Tabletop role-playing game publisher Paizo will voluntarily recognize its workers’ union, the company said on Thursday. It comes just one week after the announcement was made by workers at The StarfinderAnd Pathfinder The publisher has announced its intention to organize, with the support of Communication Workers of America (CWA), who have been a major part of the unionization efforts in the video gaming industry over the last few years. United Paizo Workers will begin to bargain with Paizo management in earnest for their first contract.

UPW announced its intention to form a union on Oct. 14, citing “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.” An initial letter, signed by more than 30 current employees, demanded action. UPW now plans to move ahead with the election of a collective-bargaining committee. This will be able to work alongside Paizo management and negotiate new terms.

“In order to enact major changes in the workplace, we need to negotiate our first contract with leadership,” UPW wrote in Thursday’s news release. “One of our goals is to increase wages to better match the cost of living, and that is likely to be the first topic we tackle.”

Paizo can be found in Redmond Washington outside of Seattle. In September, former employees of Paizo posted about workplace harassment on social networking. UPW’s initial statement was signed by less than half of Paizo’s 80 full-time employees, but representatives say that more workers have since joined the union after initial efforts were kicked off. At least some freelancers working with Paizo also allegedly refused to continue workingUntil the union was officially recognized.

Employees are joining forces to make collective bargaining possible for game workers. Unionization has the potential to “address the deep and essential connection between economic rights and social justice,” CWA campaign lead Emma Kinema wrote in August. “The reality is that when marginalized game workers experience inequality, harassment, or abuse they do not always have the same degree of economic safety and independence to push back, as do their more privileged counterparts.” A union can help mend that gap by protecting marginalized workers using that collective power.

Kinema stated that Paizo was the first North American game company to establish a union. Following complaints of a racist and sexist work environment, Cards Against Humanity workers joined the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United.

Workers are using their collective power to pressure management for better conditions, even in places where unionization is not yet an official policy. Mobile app workers Choose Your Romance with LovestruckStrike for 21 days. Successfully demanded improved work conditions. Workers at major companies like Riot Games and Activision Blizzard, too, have walked out of work; most recently, Activision Blizzard employees stopped working for a day in protest of management’s response to a California workplace misconduct and sexual harassment lawsuit. Activision Blizzard employees, both current and past, signed an open letter supporting the lawsuit.

Polygon reached Paizo and UPW to get more details.

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