"What you want is the unions off your back, and you don't need her for that when you have me."
"Well, how you gonna do that?"
"Don't you worry about that. But when I do, my family gets the 90 days they're entitled to and not a minute less, are we clear?

Jessica Pearson and Pat McGann

The Union Leader is the third episode of the first season of Pearson and the third overall. It first aired on July 31, 2019.


Jessica faces off against McGann, who isn't happy about her challenging his alderman appointee.


Jessica Pearson and Keri Allen are exercising from home while Bobby Novak goes on a morning run. After her exercise, Jessica finds Nick D'Amato waiting outside, having taken her up on her offer for him to be her driver. At her apartment, Keri calls in late for work due to a hot water issue in her building. However. she notes that Novak isn't responding to her properly and is merely making small talk. In Nick's vehicle, Jessica realizes that Nick is driving away from City Hall, and Nick responds that he is driving her to Pat McGann since Novak wanted her to take a meeting with him. As he drives, Jessica responds that her rules from now on would be that Nick is to check in with her and get her permission before driving her someplace on someone else's orders.

Pearson S01E03Promo10 - Pat Jessica

Jessica has a meeting with Pat McGann

Jessica goes to meet McGann in a public area, where he is surprised to see her and not Novak. He informs her that he wants Novak to appoint his friend, Betsy Sullivan, to take the empty alderman seat in the 54th ward, which had been vacated following Deborah Coates' resignation. Jessica replies that she would have to do her due diligence on Betsy before recommending her to Novak, to which McGann replies that she should finish her vetting by the end of the day as he does not want the alderman position to remain vacant.

At the Cook residence, Angela Cook is helping her youngest child, Mark, get ready for school when her eldest, Cory, asks her if he could attend a friend's birthday party later on that week. Angela gives her permission, thanking him for asking politely, but becomes upset when Cory asks her when they are moving, having been made aware of their housing issues. At City Hall, Keri attempts to go to Novak's office but is informed by Derrick Mayes that Novak is not in today, citing personal business, but that he most likely would still attend a scheduled meeting for 2pm. Derrick then asks her to be involved in a PR campaign to make the office look good; despite her initial declination, Derrick convinces the reluctant Keri to participate.

Pearson S01E03Promo03 - Bobby Jessica

Bobby Novak speaks with Jessica

Nick brings Jessica to a public playground, where Novak is watching his son play. Jessica notifies him about McGann's order to have his friend placed in city council, to which Novak responds that he cannot die on every hill and that it is one alderman out of fifty. Jessica wants permission to say no to McGann, especially after what McGann did to her family, and reminds Novak that the night before, during the press conference, he had informed the public that the 54th ward was important, although Novak merely replies that "yesterday is yesterday."

Jessica returns to her office, where Yoli Castillo is waiting for her. Jessica asks Yoli to book a lunch reservation for two and to have a dossier ready by lunch regarding information on Betsy Sullivan, whom Yoli explains is a upper-class society woman who holds fundraisers. Yoli makes her way to the staff kitchen to have a private encounter with Derrick, who is surprised that she is working for Jessica. Derrick apologizes for firing her publicly and offers to give her a private tour, although Yoli asks whether Derrick would have apologized had she not returned to work, taking his silence as an affirmation.

Jessica Pearson & Betsy Sullivan

Jessica goes to lunch with Betsy Sullivan

At lunch, Jessica asks Betsy why a white woman from Hyde Park would want to become alderman of the 54th ward in Chicago's South Side. Betsy notifies Jessica that growing up, she was made aware of her privilege, learning ballet while lower-income people across the boulevard were being hit with bullets, chalking her decision up to guilt or a desire to perform community service. Jessica asks why she chose to build a factory in Elmhurst rather than the 54th ward, to which Betsy responds that many of the workers they hired were prisoners and ex-convicts, having found a way around the rules that prohibit convicts from being employed in a union. After lunch, Jessica calls McGann and notifies him that Betsy is racist and thus she would not be hired, as she would alienate most of the mayor's base. She instead offers to come up with a list of candidates that she believes they would both find applicable, with McGann claiming that he could simply go straight to Novak himself. As Jessica gets in the vehicle, Nick amusingly reminds her that McGann does like being told "no", to which she replies that McGann would have to get used to it.

Yoli & Jessica (Pearson S1E3)

"I talked to a woman named Donna at your old firm."

In her office, Keri is photographed by Luke, who is taking photos for the PR shoots. Luke asks Keri out, although she refuses, which Luke construes as her being taken. She then tells him that she is late for a meeting, although as he leaves, Derrick notifies her that the meeting has been cancelled since Novak is spending time with his wife, not noticing that Keri is slightly affected by the explanation. Downstairs, as Jessica passes through security, Yoli gives Jessica her preferred coffee, having called Donna Paulsen at Zane Specter Litt, and apologizes if she has crossed a line before doing so. Yoli then offers Carlos Salazar, a Latino man who protested for employees being able to speak Spanish at work, as a candidate for alderman. Jessica is not interested in Carlos as she needs a replacement with big, financial backers, although Yoli admits that she thought Jessica would pick Carlos just because he's Latino, believing Jessica to be Latina. Jessica then gets a phone call from Lillian Cook and heads to the Cook residence.

At Lillian's apartment, Lillian presents a letter to Jessica that states that they must evict the premises in 7 days as opposed to their original 90-day agreement. Jessica realizes it is McGann's doing, but their conversation is cut short by the arrival of Angela, who does not like Jessica's presence. After Jessica leaves, Lillian asks her daughter what her issue is, explaining that she called Jessica because she thought Jessica could help, only for Angela to respond that before Jessica moved to Chicago, Lillian would have called her instead.

Jessica goes to dinner with McGann, revealing that she knows that he wants to appoint Betsy because she would slip a loophole that would allow him to use non-unionized labor, which would save him $40-50 million. McGann attempts to rationalize it by stating that a chunk of it would go towards Novak's re-election, although Jessica replies that if Betsy is made alderman, Novak would not win re-election. Jessica then offers to find another way to get McGann non-unionized labor, under the condition that he restore her family's original 90-day agreement, to which he agrees.

Jessica Pearson & Frank Cramer

Jessica speaks with Frank Cramer

The next day, Keri gives a speech in front of young women, talking about being the city attorney, when one of the girls, Tasha, asks her how she balances a relationship or marriage with her job. Keri replies that she isn't in a relationship, and Tasha responds by stating that Keri has class and integrity and thus is her new role model. Elsewhere in the city, Jessica goes to see construction union leader Frank Cramer, offering him a payout to turn a blind eye to McGann's union violations. Cramer, a caring leader with integrity, refuses to sell out his workers and refuses. As Jessica leaves, she is confronted by Tyler, Cramer's son, although Tyler is quickly subdued by Nick. Jessica questions Nick for being extremely physical with Tyler, although Nick responds that he was merely doing what Jessica wanted him to do, electing not to explain why he treated Tyler the way he did, having revealed that Tyler was once incarcerated.

Pearson S01E03Promo08 - Keri Bobby

Keri goes to see Novak

That night, Jessica calls Jeff Malone, although she receives his voicemail. She leaves a message talking about how back in New York, she could get things done much easier and how she is working with McGann to help a family who doesn't even want her; she adds that she feels alone and she misses him before the recording time for the message ends. Meanwhile, Keri goes to Novak's house, telling him that she does not want to be the woman with no integrity, sleeping with a married man, before Novak explains that his wife, Stephanie Novak, has relapsed and is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Pearson S01E03Promo05 - Jessica

Jessica in her office

Jessica returns to the office the next day, where Yoli asks about Lillian. Yoli then informs her that she has set a meeting with Carlos Salazar, although Jessica tells her to cancel the meeting, reminding her that it is not her position to push her agenda. As Yoli leaves, Keri walks in, notifying her that Angela is protesting and that she fears Angela may file a new lawsuit against the city, adding that Angela is currently at City Council.

Angela Cook (Pearson S1E3)

Angela Cook attempts to appeal to City Council

At City Council, Angela attempts to talk about being evicted although she is ordered to leave. As the guard ushers her out, she encounters Jessica, who asks her to talk. However, as Angela agrees, Jessica gets a phone call from Novak. Jessica tells Angela to wait and steps out to answer the call, where Novak asks her about her attempts to bribe Cramer, citing that he needs union support for re-election. Jessica discloses that Betsy would have turned the unions against him had she done what McGann insisted, and Novak tells her to convince Cramer, adding that Cramer is loyal and that money would not be his weak spot, despite him having three mortgages. Jessica then heads back into the courtroom to discover that Angela is gone. Jessica then calls Yoli and asks for information on Cramer. Yoli then asks Derrick for help, as she is unable to gain the information Jessica wants on her own.

Jessica (Pearson S1E3)

Jessica informs McGann of their victory

That night, Nick pays Jessica a visit at her office. Jessica is indecisive about hurting Cramer to save her family, and Nick tells her that crossing a line is something he would do for family. Jessica then goes to see Cramer, who apologizes for his son's actions earlier. Jessica informs him that since Tyler is out on parole for beating his ex-girlfriend, assaulting her would be a violation of the parole. Cramer retorts that he didn't assault her, as Tyler had just grabbed her arm, although Jessica replies that she has a sworn statement from a Chicago police officer (Nick) that he had indeed assaulted her. Cramer explains that he is financially unstable after sending his son to rehab multiple times, but stops talking after divulging that he is under a mountain of debt. Jessica then tells him to give McGann what he wants, notifying him that he would receive his financial compensation for it. Jessica then heads outside and informs McGann, who agrees to write Cramer a check, reinstate the Cooks' 90-day eviction agreement and adds that this is a start of a new friendship with Jessica, quoting Casablanca. Jessica tells him they can get dinner, which McGann wanted, after he makes good on his deal, and then has an emotional reaction to having done what she did to Cramer.

Pearson S01E03Promo01 - Stephanie Bobby

"Please don't suddenly make me a priority because I'm sick."

At the Novak house, Stephanie informs her husband that she wishes to seek medical treatment in another state. Novak replies that he is going with her, to which she responds that he is busy as mayor and cannot even go five minutes without checking his phone or emails. Additionally, she states that she does not want to be treated as his number one priority just because she is sick, although he claims that she is his number one priority because she is his wife.

Pearson S01E03Promo04 - Jessica Angela

Jessica makes amends with Angela

Jessica heads to Angela's apartment to share the news. However, as she gives the curt notification and prepares to leave, Angela invites her inside. Jessica explains that she is trying to connect with them, which Angela acknowledges. Jessica adds that she wishes to get to know her sons, Mark and Cory; Angela jokingly offers her a chance to babysit, which Jessica seriously accepts, and Angela laughingly replies that she would take Jessica up on the offer someday.

FBI Investigation

The FBI investigates Jessica, Novak and McGann

At a restaurant, Keri is drinking alcohol when Novak calls her, although she ignores it. She is then approached by Luke, the photographer who had shown interest in her, whose offer she had taken up after all. Unbeknownst to them all, at an FBI office, agents pinned photographs and notes on Novak, McGann, Jessica, Carl Jeffries and a man named Tommy Diehl on a board, with them having photographed Jessica outside her apartment.


Main Cast

Guest Cast

Major/Highlighted Events

  • Pat McGann wishes to have his friend, Betsy Sullivan, appointed as alderman of the 54th ward in order to save millions through non-unionized labor. As Jessica Pearson does not want Betsy as alderman due to her racist mindset, she decides to find McGann a way to get he wants elsewhere. She is given additional incentive when McGann shortens the Cooks' eviction period from 90 days to 7, after which Nick D'Amato tells her that it is okay to cross lines to save family. Jessica then threatens to imprison union leader Frank Cramer's son if Cramer does not take a payout and turn a blind eye, and successfully gives McGann his non-unionized, cost-saving labor.

Cultural References


  • Goddamn Counter: 3


Eviction Notice

The eviction letter is dated November 10, 2018

  • According to the eviction notice, the date this episode takes place is November 10, 2018. However, as every episode in Pearson thus far has taken place the day after the previous episode, it has been less than a week since the events of the Suits episode "Good-Bye", which is set in 2016, making the 2018 date an inconsistency and an error.


Yoli: Dark roast with a splash of cream, no sugar. I figured we might be going late.
Jessica: You know my drink.
Yoli: I talked to a woman named Donna at your old firm. I'm sorry. Don't kill me. I know it's a big swing.
Jessica: There's a fine line between being resourceful and being intrusive, Yoli.
Yoli: Which side of it am I on?
Jessica: Well, you're on the right side, but you are pushing it.
Nick: They should've kept you locked up when they had the chance.
Tyler: What are you gonna do? You're not a real cop anymore. You can't-
Nick: See that? Look at me! It means I work for the fucking mayor. I can do whatever I want. Now get the fuck out of here.
Yoli: You're actually gonna sit back in your chair like that and gloat? Don't be a cliché.
Derrick: Hey, you're the cliché. Coming to me for help after telling me to fuck off.
Yoli: That's not what I said. I didn't tell you to fuck off.
McGann: We should celebrate. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It's from "Casablanca."
Jessica: I know where it's from.


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