(written from a Production point of view)
Quark's employees, led by Rom, form a union against Quark's unfair labor practices and promptly go on strike.
The USS Defiant returns from a reconnaissance mission to the Gamma Quadrant under the command of Lieutenant Commander Worf. Having found no sign of Dominion activity, Worf dismisses everyone to prepare for the next day's debriefing, and Dax coyly notes that Worf is quite taken with the Defiant.
Things are pretty quiet at Quark's, due to the month long Bajoran Time of Cleansing where Bajorans abstain from many pleasures, causing a downturn in the amount of customers. While Quark bemoans this, Rom is suffering pain in his ear and not for the first time. Quark, as usual, doesn't care and tells Rom to get to work while Leeta stands beside Morn and defends him. As the two argue, Rom collapses and Quark's only action is an intention to dock his pay for lying down on the job. Quark asks Broik to clean up the mess caused by Rom falling down and leaves.
Rom is sent to the infirmary, where Doctor Bashir finds that he has a severe ear infection that had been left unattended for weeks. When Bashir asks why, Rom says that he didn't have any vacation time. Bashir says casually that he should petition Quark to add vacation time and sick leave to the bar's employees by forming a union to help them stop being exploited, however Rom tells Bashir that Ferengi do not fight against exploitation but instead work to become the exploiters. "Suit yourself, but I don't see you exploiting anyone," Bashir tells him.
Rom is discharged and when he recovers, he returns to the bar to find Quark in a meeting with the employees. The meeting is not good… the Bajoran Cleansing has sapped the bar's customer base and as a result, profits for the previous quarter are way down at Quark's. Quark decides to remedy his profit margin by cutting the employees' salaries by one-third, telling them that its either that or he fires a number of them. Rom pleads with Quark to reconsider the pay cut, and he does… but the decision stands. Rom then asks if the pay cuts will be re-instated after the Cleansing Festival ends. Quark says that it all depends on the next quarter's financial report. Rom asks Quark, as a brother, to grant him a personal favor and re-instate the employees' pay. Quark again says no and adds that they are not brothers at the bar. Their relationship there is only that of employer and employee. Rom threatens that if Quark does not re-instate the pay cuts then he will regret it. Quark says that the only thing he regrets is not being an only child. Rom leaves in shock.
Jadzia Dax and Worf have returned from sparring in the holosuites and are walking together in the station's corridors. Worf hears something in the conduits above the hallway. He hits a panel in the ceiling with his bat'leth. The panel gives way, and a Dopterian man falls to the floor with several items. Dax sees that the Dopterian has Worf's tooth sharpener on his person – the man just robbed Worf's quarters. Angrily, Worf takes the man to Odo's office. Odo arrests the man and has him taken to a holding cell. Worf intends to give his statement and demands to know why security lapses like these occur on DS9. Odo says that those things just happen. Worf does not accept this answer and says that those sorts of things did not happen when he served as chief of security on the USS Enterprise-D. Odo perks up and says, "Really?" and pulls out a PADD and begins to read a list of security lapses that occurred on the Enterprise. He says that he knows those are the exception rather than the rule, but if those sorts of things happen on the flagship of the Federation, Odo asks Worf to imagine how difficult it is to maintain security on an open port like DS9. Worf apologizes and says that the theft was upsetting. Odo agrees, but says that Worf will just have to get used to it.
Rom holds a secret meeting with the employees of the bar and, spurred on by Bashir's earlier advice, says that he wants to form a union.
Some of the employees, especially the Ferengi employees, are shocked that Rom would even suggest forming a union. The Ferengi Commerce Authority (FCA) strictly forbids employees to form unions. Rom says not to be afraid of the FCA, to stand up and fight for what they want. Rom even names a few employees like Frool and Grimp who could benefit from sick leave or vacation time. The employees finally agree to form the union and present their demands to Quark.
Rom goes to the infirmary and seeks Bashir's advice on unions. Bashir is surprised that Rom went to such an extreme, he was only speaking metaphorically. Chief O'Brien, who is being treated for a cyst on the back of his neck, encourages Rom and tells him about his ancestor, Sean O'Brien, who was a union miner back in 1902 Pennsylvania. Sean and a group of employees went on strike, refusing to open the anthracite mine until their demands were met. Dr. Bashir warns Rom to only strike as a last resort; perhaps Quark will give in to the union's demands. Chief O'Brien says that Quark is too stubborn and that the union will have to strike. O'Brien then makes the remark that Sean O'Brien gave the ultimate sacrifice for his union – he was found dead in the Allegheny River with 32 (or perhaps 34) gunshot wounds in him just before the strike ended.
In Ops, Chief O'Brien works to repair some faulty systems for Worf who expresses his frustration at things always breaking down. O'Brien reminds him that Federation, Bajoran, and Cardassian technology isn't meant to work together but much prefers his busy schedule on the station to when he was serving aboard the Enterprise, where he spent most of his time waiting around the transporter room for something to break down so he could fix it.
Quark returns to the bar to find the union waiting for him. Quark thinks it is a birthday surprise; they're a month too late. Rom says that they are the Guild of Restaurant and Casino Employees and they are there to present their demands. Quark, after getting over his initial shock that his employees would dare form a union, reads their demands and laughs. Rom says this is no joke. Quark says it is and to get back to work before he fires all of them. The Guild has no choice but to go on strike. Quark tries to laugh this off too, but is astounded when all his employees walk out.
The strike begins and the union is thanking people for not dining at Quark's by handing out gold-pressed latinum, and the majority of the station's population begin boycotting the bar in support of the strikers. To compensate for his lack of employees, Quark attempts to use a holographic program he received from a Lissepian to make holographic projections of himself to carry out all of the duties of the bar, but finds that they tend to cut off often, resulting in many glass breakages. Quark asks Odo to ask the strikers to leave, telling him they must be violating a law somewhere. Odo agrees that he doesn't like the idea of a mob on the Promenade, but he has received orders from Captain Sisko not to interfere as long as the strikers remain orderly and don't stop people using the second level entrance.
Meanwhile, on the upper level of the Promenade, Bashir and O'Brien are taking bets as to who will enter or pass the upper entrance of Quark's. They are surprised to find that Worf enters the bar… both Bashir and O'Brien thought Worf would not do so. They walk into the bar to have a word with the commander. Worf, Bashir, and O'Brien end up in one of Odo's holding cells, Bashir with a gash on his forehead. Captain Sisko angrily asks why members of his senior staff were fighting on the Promenade. O'Brien and Worf explain that they weren't fighting, they just had a simple disagreement, which turned into a shove, which turned into a push, which turned into Bashir (who claims he was trying to stop the fight) getting thrown over a table. O'Brien says that Bashir just got in the way. Sisko, frustrated, says that he will have to talk to Quark himself to find an end to the strike. O'Brien asks the captain if they will be let go. Sisko agrees to tell Odo to let them out… in the morning. Bashir sits down and says that he hopes O'Brien and Worf are proud of themselves.
Quark is summoned to the captain's office, where Sisko tells him that he wants the strike ended and things back to normal so Quark is to sit down with Rom and hammer out an agreement by the end of the day. Quark says that Sisko doesn't understand; merely talking to a union violates the core aspects of Ferengi culture. Sisko says that he may not understand Ferengi culture but he does know who holds the lease on Quark's – the Federation. The Federation has been extremely lenient, not charging Quark for rent, repairs, or the large amount of power the bar requires but that ends today. Sisko then reads off a list of things Quark owes; five years back rent, maintenance requests and the drain on the station's power. After some quick calculations, Sisko asks Quark if he knows how much latinum that is. Quark pales, says that it is a lot, and agrees to talk to his brother.
Quark goes to Rom's quarters and attempts to bribe him with latinum to get him to end the union. Rom refuses. Rom says that until the employees' demands are met, they will continue to strike. When he gets back to the bar, Quark finds none other than Liquidator Brunt waiting for him with two Nausicaans. Brunt assures a nervous Quark that he isn't there to cause trouble for him, but put an end to the union through any means necessary.
Rom meets with the employees to tell them what had happened. Grimp, a Ferengi, asks if Rom took the bribe. Rom says no and tells the employees that it is only a matter of time before Quark gives into their demands. Grimp is reluctant to agree; Quark may agree too much with Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #211: "Employees are the rungs on the ladder of success. Don't hesitate to step on them." The meeting is interrupted when the door is forced open and Brunt arrives with the Nausicaans. Frool grovels at Brunt's feet, asking for forgiveness. Brunt angrily says that if they were on Ferenginar, the union would be shoved off the spire atop the Tower of Commerce one by one while small children would bet on where they would land and then their splattered remains would be ground up into feed for gree-worms. Rom points out that they aren't on Ferenginar; lucky for them, Brunt replies. Brunt says that the FCA will show mercy because they have been corrupted by Federation ideals. He says that nothing will happen to the union if they return to work the following morning. Otherwise, their families will be fined and their Ferenginar accounts will be seized, leaving them destitute. Brunt and the Nausicaans leave to make their decision, leaving Frool groveling on the floor. Grimp tells Frool to get up but Rom tells him to stay down, that's where he belongs and asks the others where they belong. The union decides to continue fighting for what they want and leave the room with Frool still on the floor. The strike continues.
On the upper level of the Promenade, Worf talks to O'Brien and apologizes for the altercation they had in Quark's. O'Brien tells Worf not to worry about it, they shoved each other and – with a chuckle – Bashir was thrown over a table. Worf says that living on the station has bothered him and because of this he is going to begin living on the USS Defiant. O'Brien is aghast, and reminds Worf that he'll be living on the starship alone… but as far as Worf is concerned, that's the main appeal.
Quark tries to talk to Rom once again to dissolve the union but he refuses again. Quark says Rom shouldn't be a fool and now that the FCA is involved, they will do anything to stop him. Quark says that if Rom doesn't dissolve the union soon, Quark will no longer have any power to help him. Rom is unmoved; after all, if something happens to him, Quark will be granted his wish of being an only child.
Back in Quark's, as the two Nausicaans play darts (while using each others bodies for the board), Brunt speaks of his increasing frustration with the union's will. He says that he has to make an example of someone in order to send a clear message to the strikers. Quark worries that Brunt intends to attack Rom, but Brunt explains that he can't punish Rom directly, since that would just turn him into a celebrated martyr. The only way to do this is to hurt someone close to him. Brunt appears to be considering attacking Leeta, but then states that he can't give that order – she has such delicate lobes – so he's going to go for the next best thing… and calls the Nausicaans over. Quark quickly realizes Brunt means him…
Quark is then lying down in the infirmary on a bio-bed having received a severe beating. Rom arrives to find that the Nausicaans shattered his left eye socket, fractured two of his ascending ribs, punctured his lower lung and would have killed him if Odo hadn't interrupted. Although Odo has Brunt and the Nausicaans in a holding cell, Quark refuses to press charges despite the fact he's got an open-and-shut case, as the FCA would just send another liquidator to make an example of Rom, one who would definitely succeed. Despite what happened to Quark, Rom refuses to dissolve the union until Quark accepts all of their demands. Quark finally relents and offers Rom everything that the union wants, but Rom must make it appear that Quark has won. Rom resigns from his post as head of the union, causing the union to die, but the employees get all they want. The pay raises will go into effect by the end of the week.
Worf settles into his new quarters on the Defiant and Dax gives Worf a gift: a copy of her favorite Klingon operas. She tells him he can play the operas through the ship's com system, as loud as he wants. Worf thanks her, but Dax tells him that living on the Defiant won't change anything and he'll have to adapt to the station eventually. Worf counters that maybe it will be everyone on the station that will adapt to him.
The Bajoran Time of Cleansing is over, and everyone has returned to Quark's, including Major Kira. Rom arrives in the bar in a Bajoran uniform and states that he is now on the night shift of the engineering crew as a Diagnostic and Repair Technician, Junior Grade. Quark expresses concern that he will no longer be able to "watch after" Rom, but Rom says that he will be fine working on his own. Furthermore, Rom promises to come to Quark's all the time, but as a paying customer, punctuated by then demanding his brother serve the drink he ordered, snail juice.
"What I do during my time off is no business of yours."
"If you don't get back to work this instant, you're going to have more time off than you know what to do with."
- - Leeta and Quark
"Don't brother me. In this bar you're not my brother. You're my employee. And employees have no right to question the management's decisions."
"I'm warning you, if you don't rescind the pay cuts you're going to regret it!"
"The only thing I regret is not being an only child."
- - Quark and Rom
"You don't understand. Ferengi workers don't want to stop the exploitation. We want to find a way to become the exploiters."
- - Rom, responding to Bashir's suggestion that he form a union
"It won't happen unless you make it happen. We're Ferengi! And when a Ferengi sees an opportunity, what does he do?"
"He seizes it!"
"That's right!! And I for one intend to grab it! We've been exploited long enough! It's time to be strong, take control of our lives, our dignity and our profits!"
- - Rom and Frool, about forming a union
"Workers of the World, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains."
- - Rom, referring to a PADD in order to quote Karl Marx
"Maybe I don't know much about Ferengi culture, but I do know who holds the lease on your bar."
"The Federation. And I couldn't ask for better landlords."
"That's because we don't ask you to pay your rent, or to reimburse us for your maintenance repairs, or the drain on the station's power supply."
- - Sisko and Quark
"If this were Ferenginar, I'd have you all taken to the Spire of the Tower of Commerce, displayed to the crowds in the Great Marketplace below, and then shoved off!! One by one!! Small children would bet on where you would land, and your spattered remains would be sold as feed mulch for gree-worms."
"Spare me! I'm old! I'm fragile! I'll push the rest of them off myself!"
"I thought you said you weren't afraid of the FCA."
- - Brunt, Frool and Grimp
"We're not on Ferenginar."
"Lucky for you. But the FCA understands that living on this station has…corrupted you. You've been tempted by unwholesome Bajoran ideals, exposed to the twisted values of the Federation. And because of that, we are willing to forgive."
"But don't confuse our mercy with weakness. If you are not back at your jobs tomorrow morning, your financial accounts on Ferenginar will be confiscated, your families fined and your trading permits revoked. You'll be ruined. Reduced to utter destitution."
- - Rom, Brunt and Frool
"Our target must be someone unexpected, someone he cares about. Like that dabo girl."
"Leeta? She's not even Ferengi."
"That's what makes it so memorable. But she has such… delicate lobes. I'm afraid couldn't bring myself to give the order."
- - Brunt and Quark
"Me?! But I'm on your side!!"
"Ironic, isn't it?"
- - Quark and Brunt
"I tried to protect you, save you from yourself."
"How? By telling me I was an idiot my whole life?"
"I had to be tough on you, I was trying to make you a better Ferengi."
"What you were trying to do was make yourself feel important. Making me feel dumb made you feel smart. But I'm not dumb and you're not half as smart as you think you are!"
- - Quark and Rom
"You're just afraid of the FCA."
"Of course I'm afraid of the FCA! They crushed my eye socket!"
- - Rom and Quark
"Just get me two mugs of synthale, a double order of hasperat… and hold the conversation!"
- - Kira (only line of the episode, upon breaking her cleansing fast)
Story and script
- The original title of the episode was "The Bar Association", at least in the script, but the title as it appears in the actual episode is simply "Bar Association". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- When this story was originally pitched by sisters Barbara J. Lee and Jenifer A. Lee, the producers saw it as a possible B-story for either "Rejoined" or "Crossfire". However, after they began trying to insert it into an existing story, they realized that it was too rich a subject to be sidelined and so they decided to give it an episode of its own. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Ira Steven Behr based the scene where Sisko is haranguing Worf, O'Brien, and Bashir for brawling upon a similar scene in the 1948 John Ford film Fort Apache, in which John Wayne similarly chastises Victor McLaglan, Dick Foran, and Pedro Armendáriz. Apparently, a lot of fans thought that the scene was a homage to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", but Behr says it was very much Apache he was thinking of when he wrote the scene. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- In the pronunciation guide for the episode in the script, the guide says to "ask Colm" for the pronunciation of Boru and Clontarf. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- The two Nausicaans were played by professional dart players James Lomas and Shawn McConnell specifically for the scene in the episode where the two Nausicaans throw darts at each other. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion p. 317)
- Ira Steven Behr commented that "Bar Association": "was a show that was very popular among the staff. The staff really loved that episode. What we were trying to do is what he tried to do with "Family Business" third season, and that was to take Rom and Quark one step further. Although "Family Business" was fun, in "Bar Association" we did want to make some dramatic points". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages p 115)
- This episode is a favorite of Armin Shimerman because it deals with a subject that is close to his heart: union problems. Shimerman sits on the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and he is very passionate about labor related disputes; "People think of this as a comic episode. And it is, of course. But in truth, it's really about union-management problems. The irony of it is that I play management in the episode. So, I thought that to make Rom have a reasonably hard job as a union organizer, I would have to be tough about it, to show the struggle to the audience. Although you don't see it on TV very often, this is something that goes on in America all the time." Director LeVar Burton is also of the opinion that this is not a completely comic episode; "The execution of the idea was whimsical, but the situation was absolutely serious. It's serious drama, a power struggle between two brothers. And that's family ties." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- When Max Grodénchik saw that Rom was leaving his job at the bar, he initially reacted in much the same way as Rene Auberjonois originally reacted to Odo finding his people and Aron Eisenberg to Nog joining Starfleet Academy – he felt it was a huge mistake and would ruin the character. Just as they did with Auberjonois and Eisenberg however, the writers convinced Grodénchik that the change would not ruin, but rather enhance his character by adding a deeper level. In all three cases, the actor ultimately came to feel that the drastic change in their character was one of the best things to happen to them during the entire seven-year run of the show. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- It was when the producers saw the obvious on-screen chemistry between actors Max Grodénchik and Chase Masterson in this episode that they decided to make them a couple at some stage in the future. This eventually occurred in the fifth season episode "Doctor Bashir, I Presume", although viewers found out about Leeta's love for Rom in a few episodes prior to that, in "Let He Who Is Without Sin...". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Jeffrey Combs commented "["Bar Association"] was pretty good. I particularly remember the big scene where I break up the union meeting that Rom was organized. I enjoyed that scene very much, watching Rom crumble right before my eyes. Max [Grodenchik] was just great in that scene. He really nailed his character in the show". ("Double Trouble", Star Trek Monthly, issue 33)
- The episode drew praise for the examination of the conflict between labor and management. 
- Referenced Rules of Acquisition: #211 ("Employees are the rungs on the ladder of success. Don't hesitate to step on them") and #263 ("Never let doubt interfere with your lust for latinum")
- This is the first episode to confirm the name of the Ferengi homeworld as Ferenginar.
- In his conversation with Worf, Odo references the events of TNG: "A Matter of Time" and "Rascals".
- Rom's reluctant confession of self-administering oo-mox is the first allusion to masturbation (in any species) in all of Star Trek.
- The tooth sharpener that the Dopterian steals from Worf was sold to him by Nog in "Little Green Men".
- The phrase spoken by Rom – "Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains" – is a quote from the 1848 book The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
- There is an inconsistency in Miles O'Brien's story about the 1902 coal miners' strike in Pennsylvania. The strike occurred in the anthracite coal region of eastern Pennsylvania, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but the Allegheny River is in western Pennsylvania and the Ohio River watershed.
- Miles O'Brien claims to be descended from Irish king Brian Boru (c.941–1014). This is largely correct, as the Irish surname O'Brien literally means "descendant of Brian Boru." Miles simplifies the Battle of Clontarf (AD 1014) as being Irish v. Viking, but in reality it was Irishmen of Munster vs. Vikings of Dublin and Irish of Leinster.
- Remastered footage from the episode is featured in the documentary What We Left Behind.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.8, 22 July 1996
- As part of the DS9 Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lt. Commander Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Sam Alejan as a Human medical officer
- Bernie Bielawski as a Ferengi union member
- Kevin Brown as a Ferengi union member
- Vincent Carrera as a Ferengi union member
- Tory Christopher as a Human medical lieutenant
- Kathleen Demor as a Human security officer
- Cenita L. Johnson as Glidia
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- James Lomas as a Nausicaan bodyguard
- Dennis Madalone as Dopterian Robber
- Shawn McConnell as a Nausicaan bodyguard
- Mary Meinel-Newport as a Bolian woman
- James Minor as a Human officer
- Robin Morselli as Bajoran officer
- Tami Peterson as Vulcan science officer
- Tammy Rodriguez as the yellow-skinned dabo girl
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- James Lee Stanley as a Bajoran security deputy
- Armin Shimerman as the Quark holograms
- Ken Ziff as a Ferengi union member
- Unknown performers as
Allegheny River; anthracite strike of 1902; asteroid belt; Bajoran; Bajoran Time of Cleansing; Battle of Clontarf; bedside manner; black hole; bodyguard; Boru, Brian; bug; Clontarf; coil spanner; Constable; contract; dabo; dabo girl; DaiMon; Deep Space 9; department head; diagnostic and repair technician; dismissal; Divine Treasury; dizziness; Dopterian; drunkard; employee compensation package; Enterprise-D, USS; ethics; eye socket; fainting; fast; Federation; Ferengi; Ferengi Commerce Authority; Ferengi Rules of Acquisition; Ferenginar; fine; fire hazard; freedom of expression; Gamma Quadrant; Great Marketplace; Guild of Restaurant and Casino Employees; hasperat; hedonism; holosuite; inertial dampening generator; Ishka; Jem'Hadar; Kar-telos system; Klingons; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klingon opera; Kobheerian; landlord; latinum; layoff; lease; liquidator; Lissepian; Lissepian holoprogram seller; lung; Lurin; management; martyr; medical expert; mek'leth; moogie; Nausicaan; O'Brien, Sean Aloysius; ODN relay; oo-mox; open and shut case; overtime; Pakled; paragraph; pay cut; petty criminal; precept; Promenade; puncture; Quark's Bar and Holding Company; Rasmussen, Berlinghoff; receipt; rent; rib; robbed; sebaceous cyst; sick leave; smile; snail juice; spire; strike; tarnish; theft; traitor; tricorder; tympanic membrane; union; Vulcan; work environment; worker
- "Bar Association" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Bar Association" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Bar Association" at Wikipedia
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