A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 07, 2012
“Bring to the table” (to contribute something)

The expression “bring something to the table” possibly originated with people bringing food to the dinner table. During collective bargaining, both management and labor are said to “bring (something) to the (bargaining) table.” “Again the mine workers insisted on bringing to the bargaining table the threat of a strike interrupting war production” was cited in print in 1943; “bring something to the bargaining table” was cited in print in 1966.

Other “table” phrases include “on the table” (something negotiable or for discussion), “off the table” (something non-negotiable) and “under the table” (secretly or covertly, often said of a payment).


Wiktionary: bring to the table
Verb
bring to the table

1. (idiomatic, transitive) To contribute (something) to a group effort.

The Free Dictionary
bring something to the table
to provide something that will be a benefit

(Oxford English Dictionary)
to bring (something) to the table: to contribute (something worthwhile, useful, or valuable) to a discussion, project, etc.
1914 Times 20 Mar. 15/5 Reece can do exquisitely delicate things and bring to the table a virtuosity which words cannot overpraise.
1967 Valley Independent (Monessen, Pa.) 13 Nov. 4/1 The major attribute some of the victors in Tuesday’s voting will bring to the table is mastery of the art of getting re-elected.
1978 Business Week (Nexis) 2 Oct. 106 We’re not going to get Weyerhaeuser away from Morgan Stanley,..but for smaller companies we can really bring something to the table.

3 June 1943, Boston (MA) Herald, “Text of WLB (War Labor Board—ed.) Attack On Tactics of Lewis” (AP), pg. 6, col. 7:
Again the mine workers insisted on bringing to the bargaining table the threat of a strike interrupting war production.

30 June 1966, Billings (MT) Gazette, “‘Squabbling’ Farm Groups Draw Speaker’s Fire” by John M. Young, pg. 3, col. 2:
“National Farmers Organization is discovering you have to bring something to the bargaining table beside clout.”
(Paul C. Johnson, editorial director, “Prairie Farmer”—ed.)

17 May 1971, Bridgeport (CT) Telegram, “Negro Women’s Council Hears Black Lawmaker,” pg. 2, col. 8:
“Remember that each brings something to the table of equality; each brings something to the table of power,” Mr. Mitchell said.
(Clarence M. Mitchell III, a black state senator from Maryland—ed.)

16 September 1980, Trenton (NJ) Times, Letters, pg. A6, col. 3:
In effect—now more than ever—public employee unions need the right to strike to equal the bargaining strength employers bring to the table.

21 February 1981, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “UAW, auto execs told the U.S. is ready to cut Japanese imports” (AP), pg. 7B, col. 1:
‘Everybody has to bring something to the table,” said (Treasury Secretary Drew—ed.) Lewis, the chairman of a task force on the troubles of the U.S. auto industry.

Google Books
Developing Effective Engineering Leadership
By Ray Morrison and Carl Ericsson
Herts, UK: The Institute of Engineering and Technology
2003
Pg. 7:
Poor management decisions will always trump the good intentions of those working for the Company and the triumphant cost savings that one thought they were bringing to the table.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • (0) Comments • Friday, September 07, 2012 • Permalink