Paizo Publishing, which publishes the Starfinder and Pathfinder tabletop-role-playing game, has formed a union. United Paizo Workers (UPW), was formed with the support of Communication Workers of America, which has worked for the last several years to organize labor within the videogame industry. This marks a major breakthrough in organized labor for tabletop roles-playing, which has been neglected by the government.
“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,” UPW said Thursday in a news release. “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.”
Paizo is located outside Seattle, Washington. Jessica Price, a former employee, has recently come under fire for her work at Paizo. on TwitterThe employee claimed that she was subject to unfair and unjustified hiring, disciplinary procedures, unsafe working conditions, harassment and sexual harassment while employed by the company. Her accusations and those of other former employees were cited in workers’ decision to organize.
“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,” UPW’s news release states. “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.”
Thursday’s news release was signed by more than 30 current Paizo employees on the organizing committee, including the lead designers of both Pathfinder and Starfinder. It’s unclear if that represents a majority of the company’s workforce, which LinkedIn lists as a total of 135 individuals.
Polygon reached out to CWA for comment on today’s announcement, but the organization declined to add any more information.
We reached out also to Paizo asking if they would voluntarily recognise the union and if that would force the National Labor Relations Board to hold a vote. The company declined to comment.
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