Gearbox has released a statement regarding voice actor Troy Baker’s claims it “wouldn’t go union” when he was approached to reprise the role of Rhys in Borderlands 3.
Borderlands alumni Troy Baker and Nolan North confirmed back in May they would not be returning to play their respective roles in Borderlands 3. Initially, CEO Randy Pitchford told his followers on Twitter that he’d been “told by the audio director” that Baker had turned the role down, but the voice actor refuted this claim and insisted he would “love to come back” but “[Gearbox Software] said I’m not coming back”.
“Their timeline tells an interesting story,” Baker responded at the time, referring to the comments made by the Gearbox CEO that said he turned the role down. “I think it’s interesting that Randy Pitchford tweeted out that I turned it down, and then he said he heard that I turned it down. So maybe… I would fact check before I tweeted out to the internet.”
“It was simply a matter of they wouldn’t go union. And I can’t do a non-union gig,” Baker clarified over the weekend. “And without getting too deep into the weeds of that, we had long conversations about this. We always knew going into it, that this was going to be the thing.
“They were going to take these characters, and put them from the Tales from the Borderlands series from Telltale, into Borderlands proper. I’ve been waiting for this call. They were like, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And I said, ‘Yes’. They never, because they would never move from that position. I’m not mad. It’s invariably a completely different character, but it still stings.”
“Troy is an exceptional talent and we were disappointed that he declined to partner on Borderlands 3 after being offered the part,” Gearbox said in an official statement to Eurogamer. “We wish him the best and hope he knows the offer to collaborate with him still stands. Gearbox is a Texas company and is bound by Texas law – which means that a person cannot be denied employment because of membership or non-membership in a labour union or other labour organisation.
“As a talent-owned and talent-led organisation, Gearbox enthusiastically works to ensure our pay and working conditions meet or exceed union standards. We also believe strongly in hiring local voice actors whenever we can which is why we’re thrilled Troy’s career really took off after working with us.”
Union SAG-AFTRA also issued a statement, this time to Kotaku, revealing it tried but failed to secure a deal with Gearbox for voice actors working on Borderlands 3.
“We applaud any member who stands up for workplace fairness and the integrity of their creative work. It is a courageous decision to act in the best interests of one’s fellow SAG-AFTRA members and this honours all working people.
“The misguided decision by Gearbox to deny their performers the opportunity to have fair union wages, a safe workplace and the possibility of health care coverage for their families, is unfortunate.
“We attempted to sign Gearbox to a union agreement. They refused and disengaged from those talks.
“We look forward to hearing from any Gearbox performer who is interested in the many protections a union agreement offers actors.”