‘Sesame Street’ writers have unanimously voted to strike

Sesame Street‘s writers have unanimously voted to go on strike, with picketing to begin as early as next week. It seems the air on the famous Manhattan street isn’t quite as sweet as we’ve been led to believe.

All 35 of Sesame Street‘s writers authorised a strike in a vote held by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), without a single one abstaining. Negotiations between the writers’ union and Sesame Street‘s management have been ongoing since Feb. 13, as their current contract is set to expire on Apr. 19. Unfortunately, they’ve reached an impasse. 

The writers will now begin picketing Sesame Workshop’s New York offices from Apr. 24, unless a deal is reached beforehand. Sesame Workshop is the non-profit organisation which produces Sesame Street, alongside other children’s shows such as Bea’s Block, Esme & Roy, and Ghostwriter.

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The union outlined its demands in a press release shared by both the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW). It stated that Sesame Street‘s writers are pushing for a deal which includes “industry standard annual raises, improvements to residuals, and union coverage for Sesame Workshop’s popular animation and social media segments.”

“Our demands would be extremely meaningful for the affected writers, particularly those in animation who are currently being excluded from basic union benefits and protections like pension and healthcare,” said the WGA Sesame Workshop Negotiating Committee. “We hope for a speedy and amicable resolution to these negotiations so that we can continue to do the work of helping the next generation grow smarter, stronger and kinder.”

Mashable has reached out to Sesame Workshop, WGAE, and WGAW for comment.

First airing on PBS in 1969, Sesame Street has become a beloved children’s television stalwart across the world, and still brings comfort to viewers even after they’ve aged out of its target demographic. A Twitter/X post from Sesame Street cast member Elmo went viral earlier this year after the furry red four-year-old’s inquiry about people’s wellbeing sparked a mass online trauma dump.

“No one wants to see a picket line on Sesame Street,” said WGAE President Lisa Takeuchi Cullen. “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.”

If there’s one thing the U.S. entertainment industry has learnt over the past year, it’s that you should never underestimate writers. Hollywood ground to a halt in 2023 after the entire WGA went on strike, setting down their pens for almost six months as they negotiated a new agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The historic industrial action ended with the WGA securing a deal that ensured better streaming residuals, minimum staffing requirements for TV writers’ rooms, and a prohibition on the use of AI for generating source material.

It seems unlikely the Sesame Street strike will last as long, assuming it does end up going ahead. But unless a new contract is negotiated within the next few days, it may still be a while before any writers are around to tell you how to get to Sesame Street.

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