Kalena Thomhave

Kalena Thomhave is a writing fellow at the Prospect.

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Recent Articles

Incarcerated Workers Demand Better Conditions in Nationwide Strike

After three weeks, prisoners will have ended their work and hunger strikes, but their demands are no less powerful.

(Sipa USA via AP)
(Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa via AP Images) Protesters demonstrate against prison slavery on September 9, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. trickle-downers.jpg T his past Labor Day gave us ample opportunity to consider workers’ rights and what policies can be implemented to bridge the inequality between workers and their bosses and make working life better. Yet, there’s a group of workers who are generally left out of this conversation: prisoners across the country, and they’ve been on strike the past three weeks to make their demands heard. Prisoners in more than a dozen states have participated in the strike, which began August 21 and is set to end September 9. The most obvious way of striking—a work stoppage—has not always been possible for prisoners, so some have gone on hunger strikes , raised banners in solidarity, or boycotted the prison store. The strike has been organized by workers both inside and outside of prisons—the coordinating organizations are Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS), a...

My (Zero) Time on the Manafort Jury

A couple of months ago, I was summoned for jury duty for the federal district court in D.C. for a “special” four-week trial, the “pre-selection” process for which was set to begin today, the Tuesday after Labor Day. 

A quick search on the district court’s website said that “special” trials were “mainly high-profile.” “Maybe it’s Manafort!” I joked to my friends. 

I was 99 percent certain I would not be chosen to serve on any jury, much less a high-profile one, but I blocked off the month just in case. I took my coffee creamer out of the office refrigerator, finished up stories I was working on, and even set up an out-of-office reply. I mean, I could be gone for four weeks!

On Monday night, I followed the instructions on my jury summons form and called the juror phone line to see what time I needed to report to court.

“Your jury service is over,” the automated voice said. “We appreciate your serving as a juror in the United States District Court.” 

Was there a mistake? Did I really not have to go? I called back. Same message. 

I considered that members of the press will be barred from being in the courtroom during jury selection in the Manafort trial. I considered this piece, where I referred to the Trump administration’s white nationalism. And this one, in which I called Trump himself racist.

It was probably the Manafort trial.

And then this morning, about 120 potential jurors with purple jury summonses identical to mine made their way to the court and were told the trial was Manafort’s. They’ll fill out a written questionnaire that’s meant to weed out those too familiar with the case, and official jury selection, when jurors are questioned individually, begins on September 17.

Manafort was recently convicted of eight charges of tax and bank fraud in an Alexandria, Virginia, federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that the jury selection process will probably take longer and be more difficult than that of the trial in Virginia because people in D.C. are more likely to follow politics.

Unfortunately, all you will get from this potential juror is this blog post—and I won’t get the book deal I was hoping for.

The Coming Progressive Agenda for Workers’ Rights

Fixing the National Labor Relations Act is a must—but only a start.

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky Marleine Bastien marches in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Miami trickle-downers_35.jpg W ith Democrats looking primed to retake the House, there could be a new—and rare—opportunity to rethink labor laws in the next session of Congress. Numerous policy proposals are already making the rounds, but as progressive Democrats shop around for new labor reforms, where will they turn? Last week, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a 15-point policy agenda to reverse the decades-long erosion of workers’ rights in the U.S. Celine McNicholas, director of labor law and policy at EPI and one of the coauthors of the agenda, says that instead of the “magic bullet” reform that lawmakers might be searching for, there is no quick-fix solution. Getting decent wages back into the pockets of workers and giving workers more power at the bargaining table will take a comprehensive reform package, she says. Workers, she explains, suffer from a “systemic...

Baltimore Reckons with Its Racist Past—and Present

The vestiges of hundreds of years of racist policies still affect black families in Baltimore. New legislation would start repairs in city government itself.

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Demonstrators protest outside of the courthouse in Baltimore after a mistrial was declared in the manslaughter trial of Officer William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, on December 16, 2015. J ust over a century ago, in 1911, the Baltimore city council adopted the first residential segregation law in the country, forbidding black people from living in predominantly white neighborhoods. Though the Supreme Court ruled such policies unconstitutional seven years later, the consequences of the law, as well as the consequences of subsequent racist policies and practices like redlining , the displacement of black families, and mass incarceration remain. Today, Baltimore is one of the most segregated cities in the nation, where black residents make up a majority of the population but do worse than the average black American—and far worse than the average white Baltimore resident—on almost every...

Sorry, Sarah Sanders: Black Job Creation Doesn't Excuse Racism

Besides, the administration is pushing policies that would only further hurt black workers.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders steps away from the podium following the daily press briefing at the White House on August 15, 2018. T his week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders touted false unemployment statistics for black workers—in order to defend President Trump against charges of racism. Sanders told reporters at a press briefing, "When President Obama left after eight years in office—eight years in office—he had only created 195,000 jobs for African Americans. President Trump in his first year and a half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years." This was, of course, incorrect. The Council of Economic Advisors tweeted out corrected information and took responsibility for the error. The truth is that, over the eight years that Obama was president, about three million jobs were created for black workers. Sanders then apologized in a tweet, while adding she had “no apologies for the 700,000 jobs for...

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