Quark's employees, led by Rom, form a union against Quark's unfair labor practices and promptly go on strike.
Rom collapses while working in Quark's. He 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. 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 Time of 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. 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 is only 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. 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 man falls to the floor with several items. Dax sees that the man 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 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, 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 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 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 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 gunshot wounds in him (or was it 34?) 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 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.
The strike begins and the union is thanking people for not dining at Quark's by handing out gold-pressed latinum. 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. Quark asks Odo to ask them 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 block 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 are then seen in one of Odo's holding cells. Bashir has 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. Bashir says that he was trying to stop the fight. Sisko says that he heard that Bashir was 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. Sisko says that he sees the end to the strike as simple. In fact, Quark could get an agreement today if he went to talk to Rom. 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 was extremely lenient with Quark's rent but that ends today. Sisko then reads off a list of things Quark owes, including maintenance requests and the drain on the station's power supply, and asks how much latinum that is. Quark says that it is a lot and agrees to talk to his brother. Sisko says he is glad they're in agreement.
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.
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, an FCA liquidator, along with two Nausicaans enter. 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. The question is, where do the rest of them belong? The union decides to continue fighting for what they want and leave the room with Frool still on the floor. The strike continues.
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.
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 Defiant.
Back in Quark's, the two Nausicaans were engaging in a Nausicaan pain game. Brunt is increasingly frustrated with the union's will. He says that he has to send a message to Rom but he realizes that he can't punish Rom directly, since that would just turn Rom into a celebrated martyr. The only way to do this is to hurt someone close to him. Brunt couldn't stand to hurt Leeta – she has such delicate lobes – so he decides for the next best thing... Quark.
Quark is in the infirmary on a bio-bed. Rom arrives to find that the Nausicaans shattered his left eye socket, fractured two of his ascending ribs, and punctured his lower lung. It was lucky that they didn't kill him Rom says too bad, after all, Odo has Brunt and the Nausicaans in a holding cell and he has an open-and-shut case. Quark refuses to press charges as the FCA would just send another liquidator to make an example of Rom. The next liquidator would definitely succeed. 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 quarters on the Defiant and Dax gives Worf a gift: a copy of her favorite Klingon operas.
The Bajoran Time of Cleansing is over, and everyone has returned to Quark's. 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.
"Workers of the World, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains."
- - Rom
- This is a quote of a Karl Marx speech.
"Maybe I don't know much about Ferengi culture, but I do know who holds the lease on your bar."
- - Sisko
"I thought you said you weren't afraid of the FCA."
- - Grimp and Frool
"It's not Quark's fault that I got sick. I forgot to get my bimonthly ear scan. And besides, I've probably been getting too much oo-mox."
"Really? Who's the lucky female?"
"No female. Just me."
"Sorry enough to do something about it?"
- - Rom and Leeta
"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 couldn't bring myself to give the order."
- - Brunt and Quark
"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
"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)
- 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)
- 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".
- 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")
- 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. Although, see oo-mox for other possible allusions.
- 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)
- 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 characters 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)
- The tooth sharpener that the Dopterian steals from Worf was sold to Worf by Nog in "Little Green Men".
- 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, where 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 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)
- 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.
- 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)
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
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 Starfleet medical officer
- Tory Christopher as a Starfleet medical lieutenant
- Kathleen Demor as a Starfleet security officer
- 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 Starfleet operations officer
- Robin Morselli as a Bajoran 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
- Unknown performers as
anthracite strike of 1902; Bajoran Time of Cleansing; Battle of Clontarf; bodyguard; Boru, Brian; Clontarf; coil spanner; contract; Deep Space 9; Dopterian; Enterprise, USS (NCC-1701-D); fast; Ferenginar; Ferengi Commerce Authority; Rules of Acquisition; Guild of Restaurant and Casino Employees; Kobheerian; lease; liquidator; Lissepian; Lurin; O'Brien, Sean Aloysius; Pakled; Rasmussen, Berlinghoff; robbery; snail juice; strike; theft; union
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