Sunday, June 10, 2007

Now Showing: Death in the Desert for Development!

A bad week for workplace safety in the valley, as two workers were murdered on the job, one of the workers died while in a trench at the site for the new Harkins Christown 14. The police are fully aware of the identity of the suspect, but are not making any arrests. The culprit is well known amongst federal workplace safety investigators, and is described by detractors as a serial killer. A description given to this writer by a worker, who will remain anonymous, named the killer as a viscous system known to working folks as Work. The attacker goes under a number of aliases, such as capitalism, progress, development, or industrialism. The suspect is armed, dangerous, and everywhere. Here's some more information on the valley's latest work related deaths:

A worker was killed Saturday in a trench collapse, the second death of a construction worker in the Valley in four days.

Phoenix police said the 42-year-old man was working on a 5- to 6-foot deep trench at the Harkins Christown 14 theater going up at Spectrum Mall, Bethany Home Road and 19th Avenue.

The worker fell in as the trench collapsed about 3 p.m. and was partially covered by dirt and concrete. He was pronounced dead at the scene, said Sgt. Joel Tranter, a Phoenix police spokesman.

Tranter said a homicide investigator made an initial review of the scene and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified.

On Tuesday, Francisco Lugo, 20, was crushed by a pipe at a worksite at El Mirage and Bethany Home roads.
Workplace deaths are not only seeing a spike here in the construction and development oriented valley, Washington's King County has seen a spike in workplace deaths due to the area's building boom:

In one of a string of high-profile workplace accidents in King County this year, Merryman was killed Feb. 7 when the service locomotive he was on went out of control in the Beacon Hill tunnel, and he was thrown or jumped from the engine.

Workers have been crushed to death at a South Seattle metal recycler and at the Port of Seattle. A contractor was electrocuted at a Federal Way amusement park. On Friday, firefighters rescued a worker at a Harrison Street construction site from a 40-foot-deep hole after the man suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

This year, already a lethal one for workers in King County, comes on the heels of the deadliest this decade.

Not including workers in King County killed in homicides or car crashes, 14 people died in job-site accidents in 2006, according to a Seattle P-I analysis of statistics from the state Department of Labor and Industries. That's well above the county's five-year average of about nine workers killed a year in job-site accidents.

While the newspapers, developers, and politicians may cheer on economic growth, who will remember those who died to build the monuments of wealth and excess? The 14 in King County, 37 in Oregon, or the two in Phoenix last week, it seems apparent to me that more is needed than a monument at the state capitol.

Finally, a special message for Dan Harkins: Dan, first of all, a thank you from this valley native for the years of entertainment you've provided through your highly lucrative chain. The Camelview 5 was my film school, here I was able to take in avant-garde and international films I would have never otherwise seen on the big screen in Phoenix, it was a young film geek's film school.

Compliments aside, a worker died building one of your many new financial projects, is it possible that you set a precedent no other company will make by giving your name a rest and at least go with the Harkins (Slain workers' name here) 14 Theaters? Could you possibly give it a shot? After all, he died for you to continue to profit from your empire of theaters (standing at 31 completed in Arizona and four other states), the least you can do is drop the highly inventive (*cough*) "Christown 14" and throw this hard working person's name on the marquis, right next to your own. Sure, bosses say they take risks all the time (they mean with their money), but I'm sure we can all agree that they're rarely putting their lives on the line like their workers (who give their bodies, time, and creativity to fatten pockets that are rarely their own).

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