Employees join trade unions for the benefits that unions are able to provide their members. Though benefits vary by union and by contract, most unions are able to get workers higher wages, health insurance, better working conditions, job training and information on the latest job opportunities.
Trade unions experienced rapid growth in America during the second half of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth. After the Civil War, the United States entered a period of rapid industrial growth. Businesses of the era were not closely regulated by the government and thus were free to give their workers poor wages for work in sometimes dangerous conditions. In response, hundreds of thousands of workers banded together to form labor unions that stood up for worker's rights. Since then, the popularity of workers' unions has fluctuated with economic and working conditions.