In case it isn't common knowledge, almost every time you see picketers walking a line they aren't actual union members, they're shills hired by the unions and paid far worse than the union members could ever imagine.

The shade from the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market sign is minimal around noon; still, six picketers squeeze their thermoses and Dasani bottles onto the dirt below, trying to keep their water cool. They're walking five-hour shifts on this corner at Stephanie Street and American Pacific Drive in Henderson—anti-Wal-Mart signs propped lazily on their shoulders, deep suntans on their faces and arms—with two 15-minute breaks to run across the street and use the washroom at a gas station.

Periodically one of them will sit down in a slightly larger slice of shade under a giant electricity pole in the intersection. Four lanes of traffic rush by, some drivers honk in support, more than once someone has yelled, "assholes!" but mostly, they're ignored.

They're not union members; they're temp workers employed through Allied Forces/Labor Express by the union—United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). They're making $6 an hour, with no benefits; it's 104 F, and they're protesting the working conditions inside the new Wal-Mart grocery store.

"It don't make no sense, does it?" says James Greer, the line foreman and the only one who pulls down $8 an hour, as he ambles down the sidewalk, picket sign on shoulder, sweaty hat over sweaty gray hair, spitting sunflower seeds. "We're sacrificing for the people who work in there, and they don't even know it."

I'd have slightly more respect for labor unions if they weren't so blatantly hypocritical. Like, say, if members picketed for themselves instead of hiring others to do it for them. If you can hire others to protest on your behalf, isn't that a sign that you're paid enough already?

(HT: James Taranto.)

Update:
David Bernstein calls it "a strange protest" and Walter Olson calls the United Food and Commercial Workers "big-hearted" -- presumably in jest.

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