Sesame Workshop Averts Strike: Tentative Deal Struck With Writers

The Sesame Workshop has averted a picket line outside its New York headquarters, as a new contract deal with its unionized writers was reached on Friday night.

Sesame Workshop announced the five-year agreement hours before the educational nonprofit’s current labor contract with its writers expired. “We value our writers and their significant contributions to the creative process, which are integral to our ability to deliver on our nonprofit mission,” said a spokesperson. “This agreement is a testament to our dedication to our creative talent, and we appreciate the WGA’s collaboration in working with us to establish this new industry benchmark.”

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The Writers Guild of America confirmed the tentative deal, with the Sesame Workshop negotiating committee adding in a statement, “We are so proud to work for an organization that values its writers, and we believe this new contract will positively impact writers throughout the children’s media landscape.”

According to the Writers Guild of America East and West, which represents the 35 writers in the bargaining unit, the new deal expands the union’s contractually-covered work at Sesame Workshop in animation and new media. The agreement also institutes regulations on the use of AI and paid parental leave and makes “substantial improvements” to new media residuals. The Sesame Workshop writers will vote on whether to ratify or reject the agreement in the next few days.

The writers, who work on writing Sesame StreetHelpsters and The Not Too Late Show With Elmo, announced on Tuesday that they had unanimously authorized a strike if a deal was not reached by their latest contract’s expiration on Friday. During the negotiations, the union particularly sought to bring writing for animation and social media under its contract. The labor group also initially advocated for higher annual raises, fixed residuals for projects appearing on streaming platforms, a performance-based bonus when their work succeeds on those platforms, a paid parental leave fund and guardrails on the use of AI in the workplace.

On the union side, the talks were led by WGA East director of contract enforcement & credits Geoff Betts while Sesame Workshop svp of production management, operations, business affairs and legal Taska Carrigan represented management.

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