Meet acclaimed labor reporter Hamilton Nolan on the American labor movement and its critical place in our society and politics today

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Hamilton Nolan is a labor journalist who writes regularly for In These Times magazine and The Guardian. He has written about labor, politics, and class war for The New York Times, the Washington Post, Gawker, Splinter, and other publications. He was the longest-serving writer in Gawker’s history and was a leader in unionizing Gawker Media in 2015. Hamilton is a proud member of the Writers Guild of America, East. He lives in Brooklyn.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Inequality is America’s biggest problem. Unions are the single strongest tool that working people have to fix it. Organized labor has been in decline for decades. Yet it sits today at a moment of enormous opportunity. In the wake of the pandemic, a highly visible wave of strikes and new organizing campaigns have driven the popularity of unions to historic highs. The simmering battle inside of the labor movement over how to tap into its revolutionary potential—or allow it to be squandered—will determine the economic and social course of American life for years to come.

In chapters that span the country, Nolan shows readers the actual places where labor and politics meld. He highlights how organized labor can and does wield power effectively: a union that dominates Las Vegas and is trying to scale nationally; a successful decades-long campaign to organize California’s childcare workers; the human face of a surprising strike of factory workers trying to preserve their pathway to the middle class. Throughout, Nolan follows Sara Nelson, the fiery and charismatic head of the flight attendants’ union, as she struggles with how (and whether) to assert herself as a national leader, to try to fix what is broken. The Hammer draws the line from forgotten workplaces in rural West Virginia to Washington’s halls of power and shows how labor solidarity can utterly transform American politics—if it can first transform itself.

A labor journalist for more than a decade, Nolan helped unionize his own industry. The Hammer is an urgent on-the-ground excavation of the past, present, and future of the American labor movement.

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