When one mentions the word family, the first thing that comes to a person’s mind is the group of people you grew up with-father, mother, siblings and perhaps your grandmother or grandfather. Perhaps your definition of family is your immediate family-yourself, your spouse/significant other and your children. But stop and think about it. We have many more families in our daily lives than what immediately comes to mind. We also have our work family, our church family and our community family just to name a few.

Human beings do not live in isolation. We are very social and interact with one another in many different areas of our lives. In the annals of history, we have always banded together in groups for mutual aid and protection.

Unions are like families. Our work family is probably a lot like our own family. There are those who we get along with and those we don’t. However, all of us have a very strong sense of fairness and it is in our nature to band together when we perceive we have been mistreated. As with our immediate family we lend mutual aid and support to members of our work family.

The definition of work family was greatly expanded during the turn of the century when workers were being mistreated. Not only did it include the people that we worked at in our place of employment but also any other workers in our communities. The labor movement created a motto that succinctly explained the need for all workers to care and look out for one another: “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.”

So strong was their sense of solidarity, that often, when a worker was fired, the entire workforce walked off the job leaving their machines unattended and shutting down production. Moreover, their strong sense of solidarity extended to other workers in different plants who were having problems. If workers were being mistreated at other plants, they walked off the job and lent their support joining their brothers and sisters with their issue(s). Workers knew that they only had themselves to have each other’s back-like a family would.

So when you read or hear about a worker or workers having problems at their workplace, remember the motto of “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.” Your work family is depending on you to lend your support