The Star Trek Hero That Would Support The Actors’ And Writers’ Strikes

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Normally, you wouldn’t think that your favorite Star Trek heroes would have much to say about the current actor’s and writer’s strikes, especially because characters like Captain Picard love to remind everyone that the Federation has outgrown the use of money as a way of life. However, fan-favorite Deep Space Nine character Miles O’Brien is never afraid to talk about his ancestors.

Colm Meaney’s Miles O’Brien talks about fighting against worker exploitation in the episode “Bar Association”

In the episode “Bar Association,” he tells Rom about an ancestor who joined a union to fight against worker exploitation. This helps inspire Rom to form his own union to fight against his brother Quark’s exploration.

While the Federation may have evolved beyond the need to use money, the Ferengi have based their entire world and culture around the acquisition of more wealth. The Ferengi Quark runs a bar on the space station, and he has a number of employees that he rules over ruthlessly.

When Miles O’Brien discovers that Rom is (thanks to Bashir’s suggestion) considering forming a union to strike for fair wages and benefits, the Chief decides to tell Rom about a downright inspirational ancestor named Sean O’Brien.

Miles O’Brien’s ancestor was a union miner on Earth in the 1920s

Miles O’Brien’s ancestor was a union miner on Earth in the 1920s, and like Rom, he and his fellow workers were getting exploited by their employers. Rather than sitting around and just taking the exploitation, Sean O’Brien ended up shutting down the anthracite mines until the employer met his demands. While this is meant to be an inspirational story, it soon takes a scary turn that spooks Quark.

Just when Rom looks genuinely moved by Miles O’Brien’s story, the Chief casually mention that Sean O’Brien had “the biggest funeral in all of Wester Pennsylvania.” Rom looks shocked at the casual mention of the striking man’s death, and O’Brien casually tells the Ferengi that his ancestor’s body was fished out of the river a week before the strike ended, and it had 32 (or was it 33?) bullets in it.

star trek o'brien

The message was clear: when you go on strike against exploitative employers, you need to be ready for some downright dirty reprisals.

If Miles O’Brien’s story had ended here, then this would have just been a funny scene of the Starfleet officer messing with his Ferengi buddy. However, when Bashir helpfully chimes in that Sean O’Brien died a hero, Chief O’Brien offers a gentle correction. “He was more than a hero,” O’Brien says, “he was a union man.”

Even before the writer’s and actor’s strike was popping off, this scene became a popular meme among internet users urging solidarity among workers. Accordingly, Miles O’Brien became something of a mascot for those seeking fair wages for their labor. And the fact that the fictional character’s views perfectly parallel those of the man playing him (amazing character actor and enthusiastic labor supporter Colm Meaney).

Like anyone who enjoys movies and television, we are looking forward to the strikes resolving, but only if it means the creators involved finally get the money they are owed for their work. Until then, the strikers facing down these Hollywood corporations should continue embracing the wisdom that Rom learned from Miles O’Brien and his ancestor’s story. “Workers of the world unite…you have nothing to lose but your chains!”