The Nation: Pickets in the Trenches

"Over the top, Soldier," shouts the U.S. Army lieutenant. "It's not my turn, Sir," protests the private. "I'm going to the grievance committee."

Around a scoffing Pentagon, that kind of dialogue is projected if new proposals to organize labor unions in the armed forces should ever be realized. Formally, the Defense Department proclaims in a policy statement that collective bargaining in the military inevitably would cause an "erosion of command authority." Informally, one Pentagon official vows: "We'd fight it to the death. There's no way you can have an army that way."

At least one union, the American Federation of Government Employees...