3 Reasons Why America's Second Largest Teachers Union Rejects McDonald's McTeacher's Nights

As educators, nothing matters more to us than the lives of our students. Yet across the country and in Los Angeles, fast food and soda corporations are using our schools for predatory marketing practices aimed at our children.


That’s why United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the main representative of certified, non-administrative staff in the Los Angeles Unified School District, is proud to stand in solidarity with our statewide and national affiliates and more than 80 education organizations across the country in denouncing one of McDonald’s most exploitative marketing schemes: McTeacher’s Nights.

Last May, UTLA’s Board of Directors unanimously passed a motion denouncing McTeacher’s Nights. Billed as “fundraising events,” McDonald’s enlists teachers and school administrators to wear branded T-shirts and work behind the counter, serving McDonald’s fast food to students. While McDonald’s gets free labor and the kind of marketing money can’t buy, children are left footing the bill for a lifetime of diet-related disease.

Here are three reasons UTLA has decided to speak out against McTeacher’s Nights:

1. The predatory marketing of fast food to children is driving an epidemic of childhood obesity and diet-related diseases like Type-2 diabetes.

From putting playgrounds in stores to inventing one of the most recognizable corporate mascots in the world— Ronald McDonald—McDonald’s has done more than any other junk food corporation to hook children on products high in fat, salt, and sugar. Like Big Tobacco, McDonald’s marketing is driving a public health crisis—one that increasingly affects children.

2. McTeacher’s Nights exploit teachers.

It is wrong for corporations to use teachers to market to children. As educators, we know how impressionable children are and how important it is to care for children and teach them the right lessons from a young age. When McDonald’s makes teachers “work” behind store counters, it sends the wrong message. The corporation exploits the trust between teachers and students to promote its junk food.

3. McTeacher’s Nights are ineffective fundraisers.

Not only are McTeacher’s Nights harmful for children’s health, they are also poor fundraisers. McTeacher’s Nights often raise as little as $1 per student, a ridiculously small amount compared to the time teachers must spend participating and recruiting their students to attend. They are a raw deal.

It is wrong to exploit cash-strapped schools by essentially turning teachers into temp workers for McDonald’s—a corporation notorious for miring its own workers in poverty.

McDonald’s thinks it can exploit teachers’ trust with their students, but we refuse to be complicit in McDonald’s scheme. That’s why UTLA is joining with other teachers’ unions in a national movement to stand up to this abusive corporation. We urge our members to reject McTeacher’s Nights and to engage their principals and parent-teacher associations about the negative consequences of these events.

We also insist that McDonald’s franchisees not approach our members with these harmful marketing tactics.

To learn more about what you can do to stop these egregious marketing practices, visit the Stop McTeacher’s Nights online action center at www.commercialfreechildhood.org/action/stopmcteachersnights.

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