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The Los Angeles Times also reported that "Safeway Inc. recently awarded 11 senior and executive vice presidents millions of dollars in stock grants and options under a new compensation plan that is drawing fire from labor leaders and others."

According to a Safeway spokesman, the compensation arrangement was necessary because of a number of high-level defections last year, and the desire to keep the existing management team in place and attract new and capable people. Safeway has a two-year policy of wage freezes and undersized bonuses, according to the LAT.

The UFCW has criticized the timing of the move by Safeway, coming at a time when the company is looking for wage and benefits concessions from store employees and when earnings have been down.

"Executives should not be rewarded for losing money," said Rick Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770 in Los Angeles. "It is obscene to reward executives with fat bonuses when more than 20,000 employees have given up their own paychecks."

Safeway CEO Steven A. Burd reportedly wasn't included in the stock-and-option reward plan.

Of course, it is unlikely that the UFCW is going to scream and moan too much, considering how much its officials make.

The LAT also reports today that Icaza earned $273,404 in 2002, 10 percent more than the previous year, out-earning even John Sweeney, the national president of the AFL-CIO, who made $247,500 that year. Icaza also out-earned by $56,000 Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO official who has been brought in to create a national campaign to support the UFCW in the strike.

UFCW International President Douglas Dority makes a whopping $329,792 a year, which the LAT says makes "him the best-paid president among the AFL-CIO's 64 member unions in 2002."
KC's View:
While we would agree that paying executives more money while howling about losses isn’t the smartest political move for Safeway, we think that Icaza has some serious questions to answer about his own income. After all, his members are losing money every day, are in far more dire straits with almost every passing hour - and he's still raking in the big bucks.