Eight days after announcing the formation of the United Paizo Workers union, the staff who create popular tabletop RPGs Pathfinder and Starfinder have earned their first major victory. Paizo executives voluntarily recognised the union, allowing it to move forward on electing representatives and bringing a contract to the negotiation table.
Paizo published a blog on October 21st saying the company was “pleased” to voluntarily recognise UPW, a move that forgoes elections and opens the door to immediate legal protections for the workers involved. The UPW was formed in coordination with the Communication Workers of America and represents a landmark effort in the tabletop industry.
“We look forward to working with the union to continue and expand our efforts to make Paizo a better place to work and to ensure that Pathfinder and Starfinder products continue to exceed gamer expectations for many years to come,” said Jeff Alvarez, Paizo’s president.
More than 30 current staff members came forward on October 14th to form the UPW in an effort to secure better working conditions and employee protections, including addressing what they characterised as long standing issues with meagre pay rates, regular overtime and crunch culture and “managerial impropriety”. Representatives say organising efforts had been ongoing for some time but were spurred by a recent firing and other losses of beloved employees due to these conditions and relationship with Paizo’s executives.
In its own subsequent update, the union laid out its next steps, which include bringing on as many current Paizo staff as possible, electing representatives who will negotiate with Paizo’s executives and drafting a contract that will, in time, become the framework of legal protections for everyone in the union.
“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,” UPW said in an update to its official website. “The work isn’t done yet; there’s still plenty to do. We’ll need your support as we continue through this process, but it’s a major achievement and we couldn’t be more excited,” it added on Twitter.
For those unfamiliar with the union formation process, reaching this step means those involved can breathe a sigh of relief. Voluntary recognition in the United States provides Paizo’s employees with a few immediate protections. They are no longer at-will employees and cannot be unjustly fired or reprimanded - this is often a key tactic management uses to break up an organising workforce. Additionally, the union itself has earned a fair bit of legitimate power to begin operating on behalf of workers, even ahead of accepting a contract.
Firming up its initial contract might take weeks, and the details of who or what is included aren’t yet known. Dicebreaker has reached out to both Paizo and the UPW for comment and will update this story as more information becomes available.