The Hammer: Power, Inequality, and the Struggle for the Soul of Labor

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A timely, in-depth, and vital exploration of the American labor movement and its critical place in our society and politics, from acclaimed labor reporter Hamilton Nolan.

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 child care 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 a urgent on-the-ground excavation of the past, present, and future of the American labor movement.

Author: Hamilton Nolan
Binding Type: Hardcover
Publisher: Hachette Books
Published: 02/13/2024
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9780306830921

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