When unions were first formed there were many issues facing workers such as unsafe working conditions, working numerous hours for little pay and others. In today's world unions function more as a bargaining agent to ensure appropriate pay and benefits for the workers. I personally feel that unions priced their workers out of some of the jobs that are now sent overseas to be done.
Labor unions were formed to give employees collective bargaining with their employers for better wages, working conditions, and benefits. The idea is that there's strength in numbers and the management isn't as likely to want to go up against the masses versus an individual. Labor unions give the employees the right to strike against or boycott their employers and many strikes have had positive results through the years. Today, labor unions are not as strong and the number have declined from what they were fifty years ago, but there are still employees seeking membership. In fact, some companies will not consider someone eligible for employment unless they belong to a union! Mainly prevalent in the "blue collar" sector of the job market, they can occasionally be found in "white collar" professions.
Here are two transportation unions:
1) United Transportation Union-headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio with over 125,000 active and retired members of the railroad, bus, mass transit, and airline industries scattered throughout the United States and Canada.
2) Transportation Communications International Union or TCU-headquartered in Rockville, Maryland and is a conglomerate merger of several separate unions representing several aspects of the railroad industry.
Trade or labor unions were originally formed to bring workers together to demand and receive better work environments. Today, they still work in a similar way - the goals have simply changed.
Major unions (such as state teacher's unions or the AFL-CIO) today work to provide the best benefits for the members of the company. This includes the areas of positive work environments, job security, salaries and benefits, and the ability to strike if certain conditions are not met. Finally, the larger unions also work politically to be influential in legislation that will continue to benefit the companies represented and its employees.
Two big transportation unions in the US are the United Transportation Union (UTT) and the Transportation Workers Union of America.