Prolific voice actor Troy Baker played Rhys in Tales from the Borderlands. Rhys returned in Borderlands 3, but Baker did not – and the reasons why became a weirdly public debate as Baker and Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford provided contradictory accounts on social media and at convention Q&As. More recent statements and interviews reveal it was a union dispute – but the parties involved still can’t agree on what happened, and another Gearbox statement has raised even more ire.
“It was simply a matter of they wouldn’t go union,” Baker tells VG247, kicking off the renewed discussion. “And I can’t do a non-union gig. 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.”
In a statement provided to Kotaku and other outlets, SAG-AFTRA says “We attempted to sign Gearbox to a union agreement. They refused and disengaged from those talks.” Gearbox followed up to say “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 labor union or other labor organization.”
Gearbox also says that it “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.”
While Baker’s first major game role was indeed in 2005’s Gearbox-developed Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, the implication that Gearbox now wants to take credit for Baker’s success across his 15-year career amid the dispute is curious, to say the least.
After Gearbox’s statement, SAG-AFTRA followed up again to say that “Gearbox’s reference to Texas law is a non-sequitur. SAG-AFTRA’s contract does not require Gearbox to deny anyone employment based on their union status. In fact, SAG-AFTRA’s contract does not require employers in any state to deny anyone employment based on union status.”
The union’s statement adds that “If indeed Gearbox meets or exceeds our contract standards in their treatment of performers, which we highly doubt, it would have cost them nothing to sign the union’s agreement and retain the original cast of their game.”