(Examiner file photo)

Safai derails call to support police reform in contract negotiations

A day after the police union called a contract proposal from The City “insulting,” Supervisor Ahsha Safai punted a resolution to committee that would have supported the proposal and its plan to streamline police reform.

If the San Francisco Police Officers Association could not agree on a contract with city officials, the resolution would have urged the arbitrator overseeing the negotiations to include the plan to speed up police reform in his final decision.

The plan would expedite reform by shortening labor negotiations between the union and The City over policies related to 272 recommendations for police reform in the department issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

But with time running out to negotiate, the Board of Supervisors needed to unanimously vote on the resolution Tuesday for it to have an impact on the contract negotiations. Safai instead forwarded the resolution to committee.

“As a person who worked with organized labor for over eight years, on principle I don’t believe it’s appropriate to remove any party’s bargaining rights,” Safai said in a text. “This item needed to be sent to committee for further conversations.”

Supervisor Sandra Fewer, who authored the resolution, called the move “despicable” on the part of Safai and Supervisor Catherine Stefani. Fewer said Stefani also wanted to move the resolution to committee.

“The POA did not endorse me and I won,” Fewer said after the meeting. “The POA did not endorse a lot of people and they won, and I just think I don’t know what they are afraid of. What they should be afraid of is not serving the public of the city and county of San Francisco. But obviously that was secondary to their political careers.”

Stefani could not immediately be reached for comment.

In the SFPOA Journal on Monday, union President Martin Halloran said the union would rather “die on the hill” than give up its labor rights to negotiate working conditions for officers through the contract proposal. Halloran also rejected the 9 percent raises for officers the Department of Human Resources has offered over the next three years.

The union has proposed a 13 percent wage increase for officers over the next three years. Each 1 percent increase in officer salaries would cost The City $4.08 million.

Supervisors Malia Cohen, Norman Yee and Hillary Ronen all co-sponsored Fewer’s resolution.

Cohen said she disagreed with Safai that the Board of Supervisors would have stepped out of bounds with the resolution by “meddling in a labor matter.”

“I question the sincerity of supervisor Safai’s comment because he has at no point articulated any concern about the Board of Supervisors injecting themselves” into the contract negotiations, Cohen told the Examiner.

Fewer said that an arbitrator could make a decision on the contract in the coming days if the two sides cannot reach an agreement.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com CrimePolitics

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