San Francisco supervisors signed off on a much-debated police contract agreement Tuesday that would pay officers more without requiring the police union to come to the table on reform.
The Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 to approve the agreement with the San Francisco Police Officers Association in a decision that advocates had framed as a test of their commitment to reform.
However, some supervisors who voted in support of the agreement signaled that their final votes could change Dec. 1 unless city labor negotiators are able to reach a separate deal with the union to drive reform.
The agreement calls for delaying raises officers were scheduled to receive as early as December in exchange for an additional 6 percent pay hike in later years.
The proposal would save San Francisco an estimated $7.1 million in the current fiscal year at a time when The City is facing a new $116 million budget deficit driven by the pandemic.
But advocates have argued that the Department of Human Resources should not be negotiating raises without demanding reform in the San Francisco Police Department.
Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Dean Preston were the two dissenting votes Tuesday.
“If we are serious about reforming this department, that is not going to happen if DHR and the mayor continue to offer more pay raises to the POA without asking for anything significant,” Preston said.
DHR reached the agreement with the SFPOA in late July after Mayor London Breed warned that unions could face layoffs unless they deferred their raises.
Supervisors Matt Haney and Shamann Walton voiced concerns about the contract but voted to support it to avoid potential layoffs, not just of police officers but other city workers.
While a representative for Breed said that rejecting the contract would not necessarily mean layoffs, Walton and Haney expressed doubt that that was the case.
“I do not trust that the Mayor’s Office is going to back away from a layoff if we do not approve the contract,” Walton said. “I am not going to play with the lives of employees.”
The vote came after Supervisor Aaron Peskin argued that the SFPOA had changed under the leadership of President Tony Montoya.
When asked by Peskin, Montoya said the union “is ready to get to work” on the 272 recommendations for reform from the U.S. Department of Justice that the SFPD has been slow to complete.
“There is really no objection to any of those 272 recommendations,” Montoya said. “We’d be willing to sign off on many of them tomorrow if it was put before us to do that.”
Peskin joined Preston and others in directing the DHR to negotiate a separate reform deal with the SFPOA outside the contract in the coming weeks.
The Bar Association of San Francisco had called for the contract itself to include language that would shorten labor negotiations that the SFPOA has used to hold up reforms policies.
John Crew, a retired American Civil Liberties Union attorney and longtime police reform advocate, said the side deal could be the SFPOA agreeing to waive its right to bargain over the DOJ reform recommendations.
The union could also agree to waive its rights to bargain over a proposal announced by Ronen Tuesday that would add transparency to the labor negotiation process.
Crew called the contract agreement a “disaster” without any reform concessions.
“They have got leverage now for two weeks that if they are approving this contract they are giving away for two years,” Crew said.
The agreement is scheduled to be heard for a second and final vote Dec. 1.