Kalena Thomhave

Kalena Thomhave is a writing fellow at The American Prospect. Her email is kthomhave@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Check a Box for Free Health Care

Maryland will enroll people in health coverage, which could be free for many, via state tax returns.

The Trump administration has spent the last two and a half years doggedly attacking the Affordable Care Act (ACA). From limiting advertising and outreach, shortening enrollment periods, and killing the individual mandate at the federal level, to approving state plans to eliminate health coverage for many Medicaid recipients, the administration has undermined and weakened the law even as a Republican-majority Congress failed to completely strike down the ACA. The national uninsured rate rose in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Gallup data , from a historic low of 10.9 percent in 2016 to 13.7 percent. That increase represents an additional seven million adults left uninsured. In response to these attacks, lawmakers in Maryland recently passed legislation that will make it easier for state residents to enroll in health care. The new program will not only widen the insurance pool and keep premiums down, but it is also a groundbreaking new way to ensure that nearly everyone who is...

American Call Center Workers Rally for Their Filipino Counterparts

While American call center jobs are offshored to the labor-hostile Philippines, some American call center workers are publicly supporting Filipino workers’ right to organize.

Under Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, labor unions in the Philippines have experienced arrests and brutal backlash for speaking out against the repression of labor activists as well as poor working conditions. Home to more call center workers than any other nation, the Philippines has for years subjected these workers to low pay and frequent misuse of contract labor. Just last year, the International Trade Union Confederation listed the Philippines as one of the ten worst countries in the world for working people, writing that “in a context of extreme state violence and suppression of civil liberties, workers and trade unionists in the Philippines faced threats and intimidation.” On the southern island of Mindanao, the Duterte regime has extended martial law until at least the end of the year, putting thousands of people at risk of repression. As call center workers in the U.S. continue to face the very real threat of further offshoring, one might assume they would be...

Blue City Challenge: Clawing Back Power from Red States

Republican state governments have blocked cities from raising wages and helping workers. Now, an activist movement is rallying to win back local power.

To make ends meet for herself and her five-year-old son in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the minimum wage is the federal government’s $7.25, Alecia Mccray juggles a number of jobs. She works at a credit union. She sells flowers at a florist’s shop. She independently sells health drinks. She works as a temp, sometimes at one-time events, sometimes cleaning offices. She has her own interior decorating business. And the job as an actress at a local haunted house? That’s just for fun. In her extremely limited free time, the low wages that are standard in Baton Rouge also inspired Mccray to participate in a local activist movement to overturn the state preemption law that forbids city governments from setting their own minimum wages. “Baton Rouge is a really underdeveloped city,” Mccray says. “There’s not much here that we have to offer—although the people are amazing—but as far as economics go, we’re at the bottom.” Baton...

Democrats Battle Over How to Raise the Minimum Wage

The overwhelming majority of House Democrats support a $15 federal minimum wage. But a centrist bill to institute regional minimum wages is standing in the way.

Brandon Ruffin holds a sign as speakers address a crowd during a "Fight for 15" rally where fast food, home care and child care industries employees demanded a $15 minimum wage, Durham, North Carolina, 2016.
Kaitlin McKeown/The Herald-Sun via AP Brandon Ruffin holds a sign as speakers address a crowd during a "Fight for 15" rally where fast food, home care and child care industries employees demanded a $15 minimum wage, Durham, North Carolina, 2016. The call for a $15 minimum wage is getting louder, and more people are hearing it. The Fight for $15 has won numerous victories, as states (including California and New York) and localities have passed their own laws to institute a $15 minimum wage—or even higher. In January, Democratic Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia and independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced the Raise the Wage Act (RTWA), which would make $15 the national wage floor by 2024. As of now, 31 Democratic senators and 205 House Democrats have signed on to the proposal. But Democrats need to persuade a few more members to ensure they can pass the bill in the House (it will go nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate)—if all House members vote...

How to Help the Multiple Victims of a Wrongful Conviction

Restorative justice may open a path to healing for the exonerated, the state, and even the victim of the original crime.

Rectify: The Power of Restorative Justice After Wrongful Conviction By Lara Bazelon Beacon Press screen_shot_2019-04-05_at_9.04.02_am.png WHEN AN EXONERATION FOR A WRONGFUL CONVICTION OCCURS , the media’s images of the aftermath follow a familiar pattern: the exonerated prisoner—almost always a black man—leaving prison, or leaving the courthouse, all smiles. There may be balloons and signs waiting, as well as hugs from family members who may not have even touched their father, son, or husband in decades. It seems something like a rebirth, the injustice of the cell far behind. As old cases are reviewed and sometimes overturned, these scenes sporadically pepper the news cycle, so much so that the idea of a person being locked away for no good reason for upward of 40 years and then, suddenly, free becomes somewhat commonplace. These happy scenes obscure what often comes next, and the other lives that were shattered due to a judicial system all too ready to lock up black...