San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya called a tentative contract agreement for police officers that is up for a vote by union members starting Friday a “sacrifice.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF cops to vote on delayed raises amid pandemic

City officials have agreed to new pay raises for officers under a contract proposal up for a vote starting Friday. But the deal would also delay previously negotiated raises that police are expecting to get next year.

The tentative agreement between the police union and labor negotiators for Mayor London Breed calls for officers to receive a new 6 percent pay hike over a two-year period that is likely to begin in January 2022.

In turn, a 3 percent raise officers are anticipating in two portions next year would be delayed until June 2022 and June 2023. Those wage increases were already delayed six months by the pandemic.

These details were included in a confidential summary of the tentative agreement provided to officers by the police union and obtained by the San Francisco Examiner.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association reached the tentative agreement with the Department of Human Resources on July 31, weeks after city officials first asked the union to defer raises and said that as many as 300 officers could be laid off on July 6, according to the summary.

Facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit fueled by the pandemic, Breed publicly urged unions to defer raises when she announced her proposed budget July 31. She assumed unions would agree to the delays to balance her budget proposal.

The tentative agreement is a proposed extension of the existing contract that will remain in effect until June 2021 unless officers approve the changes. The rank and file is scheduled to vote on the proposal from Friday until Monday.

DHR Chief of Policy Mawuli Tugbenyoh declined to confirm details of the agreement citing “active negotiations,” but said “any agreement will be subject to ratification and subsequent approval by the Board of Supervisors.”

The tentative agreement comes at a time when activists are putting intense pressure on City Hall to “defund the police.” As part of her proposed budget, Breed called for diverting $40 million a year from the San Francisco Police Department to services for the Black community over the next two years.

A spokesperson for Breed declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations.

It is unclear how much the proposal would cost The City.

SFPOA President Tony Montoya called the tentative agreement a sacrifice.

“San Francisco police officers have always answered the call when our city has been in crisis, whether it be our out of control homeless situation, open air drug markets, the COVID pandemic or our pending fiscal crisis,” Montoya said. “Once again our officers are being asked to sacrifice and they will make that determination at the end of the week.”

Among the proposed terms are that officers who call out sick for more than 20 hours in a quarter will not be allowed to earn overtime pay in a subsequent quarter by working security through the 10-B program.

The tentative agreement is likely to raise issues for advocates amid a national conversation around the role police unions — and their contracts — have played in hampering reforms.

When told about the proposal, longtime police reform advocate and retired ACLU attorney John Crew questioned whether the negotiations had taken place without input from the Board of Supervisors or Police Commission.

“There is an overwhelming public demand to not treat the type of public safety services we have in San Francisco as a closed-door negotiation between the police union and the Mayor’s Office,” Crew said.

He noted that the mayor held numerous meetings to solicit community input on her plans to defund the police.

“Where is the consultation in terms of how much we should be paying cops and what we are going to get in return if we are really going to be offering them raises?” Crew said.

The last time San Francisco negotiated the police contract in 2018, the parties failed to reach an agreement in private and held public hearings to resolve their differences in arbitration.

Facing pressure from advocates like Crew, DHR under then-Mayor Mark Farrell had sought to include a provision designed to speed up police reforms by shortening the often-criticized meet-and-confer process.

The provision was ultimately struck down during arbitration. But Crew said The City should again attempt to use the negotiations to drive police reform.

Officials could for instance seek a provision that prevents the union from encouraging officers to essentially strike by calling out sick, Crew said.

The tactic, known as the “Blue Flu,” has recently been used by police in Atlanta after an officer was charged in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks.

The SFPOA appears to recognize the impact that public attention can have on the negotiations.

In its summary for officers, the union wrote that rejecting the proposal would mean contract negotiations ensue in Spring 2021 — at a time when other labor groups would not be renegotiating contracts.

“Anti-POA and anti-police groups will be focused on POA negotiations,” the union said.

Officers will vote on the tentative agreement from 8 a.m. Friday until 4 p.m. Monday.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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