In the sixteenth episode of the fourth season ofÂ Deep Space Nine, Rom challenges Quark. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Star Trek.
This episode is downright adorable, and I donâ€™t mean that as a way to dismiss what Rom does here. I just love howÂ sincereÂ it is. It is a very basic primer for why unions are needed, how to form one, how to make demands, how to strike, and what to expect from others. How will your employer react? How will patrons of that business react? How will random strangers deal with you? In turn, each of these aspects are addressed by â€œBar Association,â€ so I think Iâ€™ll use that as a rubric to discuss this episode.
I feel like the â€œwhyâ€ of this story is perhaps the easiest to answer. For three and a half seasons, Quark has treated his brother and the other employees of his barÂ terribly. Itâ€™s no secret! Everyone knows it, and itâ€™s largely been a running joke this entire time. We also knew that Quark would frequently exploit his employees if it meant that heâ€™d make a higher profit. The events in the cold open are only a reminder of that behavior, and Iâ€™m sure this was not the first time that Quark denied someone time off to see the doctor SO THAT THEY WOULDNâ€™T DIE.
This was an unsustainable arrangement, and Rom passing out on the job was the last straw.
Yet even with such horrific experiences under his belt, Rom canâ€™t fathom doing much ofÂ anythingÂ to counter his brotherâ€™s tyrannical rule. I found it hilarious that Julianâ€™s off-hand suggestion of forming a union is what inspired Rom, as well as Oâ€™Brienâ€™s tale of his ancestor striking in Pennsylvania. Yet an inspiration isnâ€™t enough because unions and strikes are more than just forbidden on the Ferengi homeworld. As far as I could tell, none of the Ferengi had everÂ seenÂ a union or a strike in their lives. The Ferengi Commerce Assocation has certainly seen to that. Mirroring real-life organizations, the FCA acts to instill fear in the lives of the workers, making them feel so intimidated and so terrified of losing their jobs that they never act on their grievances. Thatâ€™s why unions are so important and vital within a capitalist system: it allows them to have aÂ collectiveÂ bargaining power for negotiations.
It was a delight watching Rom turn into a little revolutionary through this. He has a knack for inspiring others! His speech to convince everyone to form a union is fantastic, and it also made me super excited to see how this would turn out.
Demands / Strikes
In the end, the demands that the workers asked for were incredibly reasonable. A raise. Less hellish hours. Time off for medical needs. Paid vacation. These things are the basic standards of decency that (most) societies value, and itâ€™s the Ferengi culture thatâ€™s still in the past. Rom was firm in presenting his demands to Quark, and he didnâ€™t back down when Quark rudely dismissed them without a second thought. When Quark did this, Rom stayed committed: he then had the union strike. And thereâ€™s no denying that this was an effective tactic! The immediate affect it had was that Quark was forced to use a badly-implemented holographic system to handle what little customers he had. (Which was even lower anyway because of the Bajoran cleansing ritual.)
Quark was pissed and desperate. Most of the patrons of the bar, though, were supportive of the strike, and I wonder if this was because strikes and unions resonated with the Bajorans on the station. For the Starfleet officers, they might have been a reminder of a time in Earth history where strikes and unions were needed. I wasnâ€™t surprised that Quark was willing to bribe Rom to stop the strike, though. There was something innately familiar to me. Of course Quark wouldnâ€™t dream of giving that money toÂ allÂ of the strikers; a quiet bribe in private quarters is more his speed.
However, I was most intrigued by how the FCA would react to this, particularly since we knew how brutal Brunt was. In the FCA, there are plenty of real-world examples I could give â€“ governments, business, lobbyists, the list goes on â€“ that parallel what Brunt threatens these people with. Itâ€™s important to note that just asking to be treated better threatens the FCA so much that they threaten toÂ decimate these peopleâ€™s lives. Strip them of wealth, punish their families, degrade themâ€¦ itâ€™s such a horrifying reaction, isnâ€™t it? YET THIS IS BARELY, BARELY FICTION. Beating up Quark??? THIS ISNâ€™T NEW.
So I was surprised that Rom got what he wanted after Brunt threatened them. Gods, it is such a cool message for the show! Quark found a way to placate the FCA while giving the workers what they wanted. And in the end?
HE DOESNâ€™T WORK FOR QUARK ANYMORE.
HE HAS HIS OWN JOB.
HE IS INDEPENDENT.
THIS THRILLS ME SO MUCH, OH MY GOD!!!
The video for â€œBar Associationâ€ can be downloadedÂ here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards.
– IÂ will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.Â My next Double Features for Mark Watches have been announced here.
-Â Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook!Â I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!