SAG-AFTRA responds to Gearbox’s excuse for going non-union in Borderlands 3

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The union says Texas law was "no legal obstacle at all," countering Gearbox's claim.

Actors’ union SAG-AFTRA has responded to a claim from developer Gearbox which was meant to explain why Borderlands 3 went non-union with its talent.

Gearbox issued a statement to VG24/7 explaining its hiring procedures after Tales from the Borderlands voice actor, Troy Baker, said he didn’t reprise his role in Borderlands 3 because Gearbox “wouldn’t go union.”

“Troy is an exceptional talent and we were disappointed that he declined to partner on Borderlands 3 after being offered the part. 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 labor union or other labor organization,” Gearbox’s statement reads.

“As a talent-owned and talent-led organization, 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.”

SAG-AFTRA told VG24/7 that Texas law was “no legal obstacle at all,” countering Gearbox’s statement.

“Gearbox’s reference to Texas law is a non-sequitur,” the statement reads. “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.

“We are fully aware of the anti-labor, right-to-work-for-less laws that help explain why Texas has more minimum-wage workers than any state in the Union. Employers in Texas and other right-to-work-for-less states nevertheless routinely work under SAG-AFTRA agreements with no legal obstacle at all. To the extent that Gearbox’s statement reflects legitimate ignorance, Gearbox could easily have asked that question during their discussions with SAG-AFTRA, which they did not.

“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. While SAG-AFTRA does not comment on member discipline matters, we observe that SAG-AFTRA members who work for certain non-union employers not only deprive themselves of the benefits of a union agreement, they lower the standards for all their peers and facilitate the abuse and exploitation of performers.”

SAG-AFTRA also told Polygon that Gearbox “refused and disengaged” from union talks.

Borderlands 3 is available now on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4.