UPDATED, 4:53 PM: Writers Guild members at Sesame Workshop have reached a tentative deal with management to avoid a threatened strike. A ratification vote on the new five-year collective bargaining agreement will be held in the coming days.

The WGA said its 35 Sesame Workshop writers won “historic” jurisdiction and minimum rates for animation and new media programs produced by Sesame, protections against artificial intelligence, paid parental leave benefits and substantial improvements to new media residuals.

The writers had voted this week to authorize a strike against the nonprofit organization, and picketing would have begun April 24 outside Sesame Workshop’s offices in New York City, had a deal not been struck.

“Sesame Workshop writers won a new agreement that recognizes the value of the incredible work they do to educate and enlighten children around the world,” WGAE President Lisa Takeuchi Cullen said. “This contract could not have been achieved without the solidarity and fortitude shown by the entire bargaining unit throughout the negotiations. Workers win when they stand together.”

The WGA Sesame Workshop Negotiating Committee said 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. ‘S’ truly is for Solidarity. We are glad to have a contract in place that allows Sesame to do what it does best — lead.”

PREVIOUSLY, April 16: There soon might be a picket line on Sesame Street.

Writers at the Sesame Workshop have voted unanimously to authorize a strike against the nonprofit organization, the Writers Guild of America said Tuesday.

The guild says there was 100% participation in the strike-authorization vote from the 35-member bargaining unit. The writers are prepared to walk the picket line if a tentative deal isn’t reached by Friday, which is when the current contract expires. The strike would include any and all work for Sesame Street.

“The writers that Sesame Workshop hires are deeply committed to the work that we do. Like the Workshop itself, we are mission-driven and child-focused, and we work hard at telling stories that contribute to the Workshop’s curricula inspired by heart, curiosity, community, kindness, diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the WGA Sesame Workshop Negotiating Committee said in a statement.

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In a statement to Deadline, a Sesame Workshop spokesperson said: “Our writers are integral members of our creative team, and we are engaged in good faith negotiations with the WGA. We’re still hopeful that we’ll come to an agreement in advance of the expiration.”

Negotiations for the Sesame Workshop’s new contract began on February 13. According to the guild, the new contract proposal includes annual raises, improvements to residuals, and union coverage for Sesame Workshop’s animation and social media segments. I

If a strike happens, picketing will begin on April 24 outside Sesame Workshop’s offices in New York City. 

“No one wants to see a picket line on Sesame Street,” WGAE President Lisa Takeuchi Cullen said in a statement. “Millions of  parents and families around the world are going to have a lot of questions. They might ask why the bosses at Sesame Workshop are ignoring their company’s own messages of kindness and fairness.”

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

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