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Bar Association

Production no.: 488
Teleplay by: Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Ira Steven Behr
Story by: Barbara J. Lee & Jenifer A. Lee
Directed by: LeVar Burton
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: February 17, 1996
Max Grodénchik .....
Chase Masterson ....
Jason Marsden .......
Emilio Borelli ..........
Jeffrey Combs ........

The Defiant returns to the station after completing a maneuvers mission in the Gamma Quadrant, during which there was no sign of the Jem'Hadar. Worf discusses the ship's performance with Dax, who mischievously tells him he's in love -- with the ship. "You exaggerate, as usual," he replies.

In Quark's, Leeta giggles at the sight of her boyfriend, Bashir, on his way to the holosuite with O'Brien, both dressed as 11th-century Irish warriors. Meanwhile, at the bar, Rom is mixing up a concoction and moaning in pain. "I know exactly how you feel," Quark says, looking at the sparse crowd. There's not a single Bajoran here; it's their Time of Cleansing, a month-long religious ritual. Rom pours the concoction, a home remedy of their mother's, into his ear. He's suffering from a severe ear infection, but Quark is unsympathetic and tells him to wait one of the tables. Leeta is concerned for Rom, who keels over in a faint as she's arguing with Quark. "Aren't you going to do something?" demands Leeta. "Of course I'm going to do something," says Quark. "I'm going to dock his pay."

One good thing about Rom's fainting spell is that it brings his infection to the attention of Bashir, who treats it but wonders why Rom didn't come to him before. Rom says he couldn't take the time off work; there's a clause in his labor contract with Quark that prevents him from doing so. Bashir is amazed at the injustice. "What you people need is a union." Such a concept, however, is anathema to Ferengi society. Rom tells him, "You don't understand. Ferengi workers don't want to stop the exploitation. We want to find a way to become the exploiters." "Suit yourself," says Bashir. "But I don't see you exploiting anyone."

Rom goes back to the bar, where Leeta's relieved to see he's all right. The infection was a result of too much oo-mox, he explains, although he's embarrassed to admit there was no female involved. They're still talking when Quark gathers his employees together to make an announcement. He's cutting everyone's salary by a third. "It's either that or fire half the staff. Don't bother thanking me." Leeta protests, but Quark is firm. As the workers dejectedly prepare to close up, Rom speaks to him. "Brother, this isn't right. You can't just cut people's salaries without warning." Quark says he can, and he has. "Now, why don't you concentrate on keeping your hands off your lobes and leave the business matters to me?" As for restoring everyone's salary after the Time of Cleansing, that depends on the fiscal summation.

Rom makes one more appeal. "Brother, I'm asking you as a personal favor to reconsider this pay cut." Quark pretends to do so for a moment. "There. I've reconsidered it. My decision stands." "But, brother -- " "Don't 'brother' me," Quark says harshly. "In this bar, you're not my brother. You're my employee. And employees have no right to question the management's decisions." Normally Rom would back off, but not this time. "I'm warning you, if you don't rescind the pay cuts, you're going to regret it," he says. Quark gives him a cold look. "The only thing I regret is not being an only child."

Worf is walking down a corridor with Dax after a holosuite practice session when they hear a noise from above. Worf thumps a ceiling panel, which falls open, and out tumbles a Dopterian thief with a bag of booty. Among the items, Dax finds Worf's tooth sharpener. A furious Worf takes the thief to Odo, who has him locked up. "Unfortunately, these things happen," Odo tells him. "They did not happen on the Enterprise," Worf retorts. Odo smiles. "Really?" He whips out a PADD (you'd almost think he was just waiting for this subject to come up) and begins reading off instances of security breaches that did indeed happen on the Enterprise, under Worf's watch as security chief there. "Shall I continue?" "That will not be necessary," Worf says, gritting his teeth. Odo points out that security on DS9 is more difficult to maintain than it is on a starship. "I understand," Worf admits; Odo's got him. "It is just that I find it...irritating." "So do I," agrees Odo. "But I'm afraid you're just going to have to get used to it."

Rom calls the other bar employees together for an impromptu meeting in his quarters. "I know that in the past I've always defended my brother whenever he's taken a stance that's proven unpopular with the staff," he tells them. "But I'm not going to do that today." The others are surprised; this is unusual for Rom. "Quark's just using the cleansing ritual to increase his profits at our expense," Rom declares. "It isn't fair. And we're not going to take it." Leeta asks what they're going to do about it. "We're going to fight back," Rom says. "In the only way we can. We're going to form a...a..." Finally, he utters the sacrilegious word. "We're going to form...a union."

Grimp and Frool, two of the Ferengi waiters, are horrified. Just talking about a union will get them into serious trouble with the FCA. They're doomed. "All right," argues Rom. "So we're doomed. FCA liquidators will probably haunt us for the rest of our lives. But I say if they're going to come after us, let's give them a good reason." He reminds them of all the ways in which Quark has treated them unfairly, and that change won't happen unless they make it happen. Ferengis are born to seize opportunity when they see it. "We've been exploited long enough. It's time to be strong, take control of our lives, our dignity, and our profits. Strike a blow against Quark!" The others start to get fired up. "Strike a blow against the FCA! Strike a blow against exploitation! Are you with me?" Leeta leads the rest in a big "Yes!", and everyone starts chanting, "Union, union, union...", even the Ferengi waiters.

O'Brien happens to be in the infirmary, getting a pimple on his neck removed by Bashir, when Rom comes in, asking the doctor's advice about unions. O'Brien approves. "A union, huh? Good for you." He happens to have an ancestor, Sean Aloysius O'Brien, who led Pennsylvania coal miners in a strike in 1902. The mines didn't open again until all the demands of the striking workers were met. Since Quark is unlikely to be reasonable, O'Brien advises Rom that he'll have to strike as well. "And when you do, you'll have to be strong." Rom's confidence increases, until O'Brien mentions that his ancestor's body was fished out of the Allegheny River before the strike ended, with 32 (or maybe 34) bullets in it. "Well, he died a hero," Bashir says. "He was more than a hero," O'Brien declares proudly. "He was a union man."

Later, in Ops, O'Brien works on Worf's station, which is down. Worf is not pleased to hear it'll take a while. "That's the problem when you combine Cardassian, Bajoran and Federation technology," says the Chief. "None of it was meant to work together." "How do you tolerate working in this environment?" Worf asks. O'Brien tells him it's easier than working on the Enterprise, which surprises Worf; there were never these kinds of problems on the Enterprise. "Tell me about it," says O'Brien. "Have you any idea how bored I used to get sitting in the transporter room waiting for something to break down? Here, I've half a dozen new problems every day. This station needs me."

When Quark enters the bar the next day, he finds his entire work staff assembled. Rom announces, "We're the Guild of Restaurant and Casino Employees, and we're here to present our demands." Quark isn't sure he heard right. It sounds like the U-word. Rom confirms it, and Quark reads the demands. He starts to guffaw. "This is no joke," says Rom grimly. "Yes, it is," chortles Quark. "And the fact that you don't know that it is, is what makes it so funny. Now get back to work before I fire the lot of you." Rom declares that he can't. "Why not?" Quark asks mockingly. "Because as of right now, we're all on strike!" And the employees march out. Quark laughs at first, but his mirth fades as the last few pass him.

Rom and the others stand in front of Quark's, passing out slips of latinum to passersby as bribes not to enter. Meanwhile, Quark has resorted to using holographic copies of himself to carry out the work in the bar, but the program is faulty. He asks Odo to get the striking employees away from the front door; they're blocking access to his place of business and causing a disturbance on the Promenade. Odo agrees; as far as he's concerned, unions sound like trouble. "I don't like mobs. In my opinion, if you need one to get what you want, it's not worth getting." However, he won't haul the strikers away. Sisko has ordered him not to interfere with their freedom of expression, as long as they stay peaceful and allow people to enter the bar through the second level.

Bashir and O'Brien make a game of watching the second-level entrance of Quark's and guessing who will honor the strike and who won't. To their surprise, they see Worf go in. O'Brien enters after him, full of righteous indignation. The next thing they know, all three of them are in a holding cell, having been arrested by Odo for brawling. Sisko comes in to read them the riot act, and the three officers are appropriately chagrined, though they try their best to spin the incident. "I suppose I'm going to have to talk with Quark myself," says Sisko. "Find a way to settle this strike and get things back to normal around here." O'Brien dares to ask if they can leave now, and Sisko tells them he'll have Odo release them...in the morning. "I hope you're proud of yourselves," Bashir grumbles to the other two.

As promised, Sisko has a talk with Quark, and tells him in no uncertain terms to settle the strike. "Captain," says Quark, "I'm afraid you don't understand what a delicate situation this is. Even talking with strikers would be a violation of the most sacred precepts of Ferengi culture." "Maybe I don't know much about Ferengi culture," Sisko replies, "but I do know who holds the lease on your bar." The Federation hasn't once asked Quark to pay his rent, or reimburse them for maintenance or the drain on the station's power supply. But Sisko hints heavily that this generosity will end unless Quark takes care of the matter. "I'll talk to my brother," Quark finally says, defeated. "I'm glad we're in agreement," Sisko says curtly.

Quark enters Rom's quarters as his brother is studying some PADDs, and hands him one more, which contains the amount of latinum Quark is willing to transfer to Rom's account in exchange for ending the strike. Rom refuses, much to Quark's surprise. "Rom, we shouldn't be fighting. We're brothers." But Rom parrots Quark's own words back to him, about their being simply employer and employee when it comes to business. "I was wrong," says Quark. "No, you weren't," Rom tells him. He has only one thing to say to his brother. "'Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.'" Quark looks at him in horrified bewilderment. "What's happened to you?"

As if things weren't bad enough, when Quark goes back to the bar, he finds Liquidator Brunt of the FCA there with two Nausicaan bully-boys. He's here to end this labor dispute, "by any means necessary."

Rom and the other Guild members are encouraged by the way things seem to be going. Grimp, though, is pessimistic. But Rom tells them about the bribe Quark offered him to end the strike. "He's getting desperate. A few more days and we'll get everything we want." Just then, however, the door is forced open, and Brunt stands there with his Nausicaans.

Frool immediately caves and grovels on his knees, blubbering. Brunt addresses the group. "If this was 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." "Don't let him intimidate you," Rom says. "We're not on Ferenginar." "Lucky for you," Brunt tells them. He goes on to say that because they've been corrupted by Federation values, the FCA is willing to forgive them; but if they're not back at their jobs tomorrow morning, their assets will be confiscated and their trading permits revoked -- to a Ferengi, a fate worse than death. Brunt leaves, his point made.

The threat only strengthens Rom's determination to stand tall, like Sean O'Brien. "I'm telling you, nothing has changed. Victory is within our grasp. All we have to do is take it. Now, are you with me?" They are. "Then let's get back on that picket line and show Quark what we're made of!" The group march out the door with renewed energy -- all except Frool, who is still on his knees. "Can I get up now?"

O'Brien is watching the strikers proudly when Worf joins him, to apologize for letting things get out of hand the other day. "It never should have happened. And under normal circumstances, it never would have. But there is something about this station I find unsettling." "You'll get used to it," says O'Brien, but Worf has already found another solution. He is going to move onto the Defiant; Sisko has okayed it, as long as it doesn't interfere with his duties. "But you'll be living out there all by yourself," exclaims O'Brien. Worf looks at him. "I know."

Rom walks Leeta home; she's impressed by the way he stood up to Brunt. "You've surprised a lot of people. Including me." She kisses his forehead before going inside, and Rom stands there with a dreamy grin until Quark hisses at him from behind a corner. He has to talk to Rom. "The FCA's involved now. And those Nausicaans working for Brunt aren't just for show." "I'm not going to let Brunt intimidate me," Rom declares. But Quark is genuinely concerned for him. "Don't you see, Rom? You should be intimidated. There's no telling what Brunt might do, and I don't want you to get hurt."

"You never cared what happened to me before," Rom accuses him. Quark protests that he's always cared about him. "I've tried to protect you, save you from yourself." "How?" Rom shoots back bitterly. "By telling me I was an idiot my whole life?" "I had to be tough on you!" Quark justifies. "I was trying to make you a better Ferengi." But never again will Rom buy that. "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."

"Rom, you have to listen to me," Quark says desperately. "The FCA doesn't have to answer to anyone. And if Brunt decides to get rid of you, I won't be able to stop him." "Look at it this way," Rom replies. "If Brunt gets rid of me, then all your problems are solved. You always said you wanted to be an only child!"

Brunt is sitting at the bar, his Nausicaans off to the side playing a charming little game of tossing darts into each other, when Quark enters. He tells Brunt he needs more time. "Look, you're here to help me, right?" "Wrong," says Brunt. "I'm here to enforce Ferengi law, and to protect Ferengi tradition. And that means putting an end to this strike. Now, I can see we are going to have to make an example of someone." Quark was afraid it would come to this. "I don't want my brother hurt." "I wasn't thinking of him," Brunt assures him. "Attack the leader of a movement, and you risk creating a martyr. No, Rom must not be touched. Our target must be someone unexpected, someone he cares about." He thinks aloud about Leeta, but says he couldn't bring himself to give the order. "Let's see, who else does Rom care about?" And he looks at Quark. "Me?" Quark gasps, as the Nausicaans come over in response to Brunt's call. "But I'm on your side." Brunt just smiles. "Ironic, isn't it?"

Quark ends up in the infirmary, having been beaten within an inch of his life by the Nausicaans. He was saved only by Odo's intervention, as he tells Rom when his brother visits. Rom is less than sympathetic. "Don't you get it?" says Quark. "This was a message, for you." Brunt and the Nausicaans may be in a holding cell, but Quark has no intention of pressing charges; he's in enough trouble with the FCA as it is. "Either way, the FCA will just send another liquidator. And that one will make an example of you." Quark simply wants to end the strike.

"So give us what we want," says Rom. Quark tells him he can't. "I'm not going against ten thousand years of Ferengi tradition." Not to mention, he's afraid of the FCA. "And if you had any sense, you'd be afraid of them too. If this strike doesn't get settled soon, we're both going to find ourselves tossed out the nearest airlock. You have to dissolve the union...At least, officially." He has an idea. If Rom dissolves the union, making it look like Quark has won, Quark will meet the workers' demands. After a bit more negotiation, in which Quark reluctantly concedes an immediate raise as well, Rom finally agrees.

Dax visits Worf in his new quarters on the Defiant, and brings him a present, a collection of Klingon operas. "You know, Worf, in the end, living on the Defiant isn't going to change anything. You're still going to have to get used to life on the station." Worf isn't so sure; Dax tells him he'll have to adapt sooner or later. "Perhaps, in the end, it will be all of you who will have to adapt to me," Worf says.

The strike is over, and so is the Time of Cleansing; things are getting back to normal. Rom enters the bar, now clad in a Bajoran uniform, and orders a snail juice. He announces that he's no longer working here. "I've wiped my last table and mixed my last Black Hole. Starting today, I'm one of the station's diagnostic and repair technicians. Junior grade, night shift."

Quark is shocked. After all, he gave Rom everything he wanted. "I know," says Rom. "But if the strike taught me anything, it's that I do a lot better when you're not around. Don't worry. I'll keep your holosuites running and fix your replicators when they're broken. I think this'll be really good for our relationship." "I don't," Quark says, feeling a little hurt. But Rom points out, "If I keep working for you, all I have to look forward to is waiting for you to die so I can inherit the bar. Well, I don't want you to die. And besides, I deserve to have a life of my own now." "But without me looking after you -- " Quark begins. "I'll do fine," Rom finishes, firmly.

Though Quark doesn't like this development, he has no choice but to accept it. No longer the lowly employee, Rom orders, "Now get me my snail juice...brother."

  • Ironically, Armin Shimerman is actually a strong pro-union voice, and a member of the board of directors of the Screen Actors' Guild.
  • The staff had initially considered using the union plotline as a B-story in either "Rejoined" or "Crossfire".
  • The security breaches on the Enterprise that Odo recites are from the TNG episodes "Rascals" and "A Matter of Time".
  • The Nausicaans were played by Shawn McConnell and James Lomas; Lomas was the show's unofficial "darts advisor".