Taylor Billings, tbillings@
For immediate release:
February 8, 2019
American Federation of Teachers kicks junk food out of schools
Millions of educators give fast food industry’s predatory marketing tactics a failing grade
MIAMI—Yesterday, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) said, “I’m not lovin’ it” and called for an end to McDonald’s and the fast food industry’s predatory marketing in schools. At this year’s executive council meeting, AFT adopted a resolution that rejects junk food fundraisers like McDonald’s McTeacher’s Nights, becoming the first national teachers’ union to approve such a policy.
AFT’s nearly two million members are part of a years-long movement of millions of parents, educators, health professionals and prominent school districts in the country who are demanding an end to predatory marketing in schools and junk food corporations’ abusive labor practices, like McTeacher’s Nights.
“McDonald’s wrote the playbook on how to exploit classrooms and market to children. But today, millions of AFT educators called out these junk food fundraisers for what they are: a scam,” said Cecily Myart-Cruz, vice-president of United Teachers Los Angeles. “We are standing with fast-food industry workers, taking back our classrooms from the industry’s greasy grip, and kicking these ‘fundraisers’ to the curb.”
At McTeacher’s Nights, a particularly egregious junk food “fundraiser,” McDonald’s has teachers work for no pay behind the counter and serve burgers, fries and soda to students and students’ families. Often, to accommodate for teachers working behind the counter, McDonald’s workers are displaced and denied shifts and wages for the night. Since 2013, more than 1,300 McTeacher’s Night events have been documented in more than 45 states.
“AFT has taken a bold step in the right direction to protect our children from the junk food industry’s insidious marketing tactics,” said Alexa Kaczmarski, senior organizer with Corporate Accountability’s food campaign. “Millions of educators just made clear to junk-food behemoths like McDonald’s that they refuse to be pawns in the industry’s predatory marketing schemes.”
The resolution directs the AFT to demand corporations, including McDonald’s President and CEO, end junk food fundraisers. In addition, the resolution directs AFT to educate its members on the negative effects of corporate fundraisers, encourages teachers not to participate in the events, and calls for educators to support policies and legislation that further protect children from junk food marketing – compelling other institutions to follow suit.
“Not only do McTeacher’s Nights target children and exploit teachers, but they also abuse McDonald’s workers by robbing them of much needed wages” said Jose Oliva of Food Chain Workers Alliance. “McDonald’s must listen to the millions of calls from workers and educators and stop this exploitation immediately.”
The junk food industry has long faced growing concerns stemming from its abusive practices. Late last year, McDonald’s workers went on strike over sexual harassment in stores. And last month, teachers from United Teachers Los Angeles went on a six-day strike, raising concerns about the privatization and the role of corporations in their classrooms.
In addition to McTeacher’s Nights, McDonald’s has marketed directly to students by sending Ronald McDonald into schools under the guise of physical education and reading programming, and even selling branded fast food in school cafeterias.