After suffering for weeks with an ear infection without a day off, Rom finally collapses in Quark's bar and is taken to the Infirmary. Bashir is outraged that Quark refuses to give any employees sick leave and casually suggests that Rom form a union. When Rom returns to work, Quark announces that he is cutting the salaries of his employees to compensate for declining profits due to a month-long Bajoran festival. Angered at this mistreatment and inspired by Bashir's words, Rom calls a secret meeting of Quark's waiters and dabo girls such as Leeta and announces that he wants to start a union.
While some of the Ferengi employees are initially fearful about angering the Ferengi Commerce Authority (FCA), Rom says that they have little to lose, and the union is formed. He makes up a list of demands - increased pay, shorter hours, paid sick leave - and presents them to Quark, who simply laughs them off. But Rom has the last laugh when he tells his brother that the new union is now on strike.
Rom pays customers to stay out of Quark's - a tactic that seems to be paying off, because the bar is practically deserted. On Captain Sisko's orders, Odo refuses to disperse the strikers - even when Worf, Chief O'Brien, and Dr. Bashir wind up in a brawl. However, Sisko does threaten to collect Quark's back rent if he doesn't settle, so Quark offers Rom a bribe to stop the strike. Rom, quoting Marx's The Communist Manifesto ("Workers of the world, unite!"), refuses - but Quark's problems may be solved anyway. Liquidator Brunt from the FCA has arrived, and promises Quark he will put a stop to the strike by any means necessary.
Brunt crashes a union meeting and threatens the Ferengi workers if they don't return to Quark's. However, Rom inspires his troops once again, and they rededicate themselves to the strike. Later Quark tries to talk Rom into giving up, worried about what the FCA will do to his brother, but Rom holds firm (as earlier Quark wished out loud to be an only child). Things only get worse when Brunt has his Nausicaan thugs beat up Quark as an example.
In the Infirmary, a wounded Quark offers to secretly honor the demands of the strikers as long as Rom disbands the union and pretends that Quark has won, to which Rom agrees. Once everyone returns to work at their new, higher salaries, Rom announces that he has quit to work for the station as a junior repair technician - having proven to himself that he can really survive on his own, without Quark's "help."