Supes approve police raises with final 9-2 vote

Union reaches side deals with city, but contract lacks reform concessions advocates wanted

The Board of Supervisors officially approved San Francisco’s renegotiated police contract Tuesday, closing out months of debate over whether to give officers new raises without requiring their union to partake in reform.

The board voted 9-2 with supervisors Hillary Ronen and Dean Preston in dissent to approve the updated contract, which delays raises for officers in the short term in exchange for new pay increases totalling 6 percent later on.

Advocates had argued that the board should not approve the contract without the Department of Human Resources, under the direction of Mayor London Breed, using the negotiations as an opportunity to drive reform.

Attorneys from the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Public Defender’s Office wanted the contract to clearly articulate that The City would not engage in a lengthy negotiation process called meet-and-confer over policy changes, or managerial prerogatives, that do not impact working conditions.

The process has been criticized for stalling reforms such as an update to the San Francisco Police Department’s body-worn camera policy, which was first approved in January 2018 but stuck in limbo for more than two years of negotiations.

The contract as approved does not include any reform concessions from the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

The agreement “does nothing to address the POA’s unrelenting history of delaying much needed reforms,” Preston told the San Francisco Examiner. “The SFPD will not be meaningfully reformed if DHR and the mayor continue to offer more pay raises to the SFPOA and ask for nothing in return.”

While the contract fell short for critics, the SFPOA did reach two agreements with city officials on the side after some supervisors who supported the contract at the Nov. 17 meeting indicated their votes might otherwise change.

One agreement, signed Monday by SFPOA President Tony Montoya and SFPD Chief Bill Scott, said the union agreed to police redirecting 17 types of calls for service to mental health or other professionals.

“The SFPOA intends and agrees to work collaboratively with The City to develop and accelerate implementation of specific reforms, including those that address police biases and strengthen accountability,” the agreement reads.

The other agreement, signed Tuesday by DHR and the SFPOA, is meant to clarify a contentious section of the contract that requires The City to notify the union of management decisions that affect officers.

“This MOU provision does not expand The City’s bargaining requirements,” the agreement reads, referring to the contract as a memorandum of understanding.

Montoya did not respond to a request for comment.

He previously framed the contract changes as a sacrifice for officers, who were scheduled to get a 2 percent raise Jan. 1 but will now have to wait until next July to receive a new 3 percent raise.

Montoya also told the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 17 that the union was was ready to sign off on “many” of the 272 federal recommendations for SFPD reform.

“There is really no objection to any of those 272 recommendations,” Montoya said.

But Rebecca Young, co-chair of the Public Defender’s Office Racial Justice Committee, said SFPOA has been unwilling to waive its bargaining rights on the remaining recommendations since Montoya made that statement.

“The POA says one thing publicly but they do another thing privately,” Young said.

Young also blasted the side deals as “window dressing,” criticizing the first agreement for simply reducing the potential workload of police officers and the second for only restating California law on bargaining.

“These are not concessions,” Young said.

Some of the supervisors who voted to approve the contract did so out of concern that rejecting it would lead to layoffs. The Mayor’s Office warned the union over the summer that as many as 300 officers could be laid off if the SFPOA did not agree to defer raises, the Examiner previously reported.

The City was facing a $1.7 billion budget deficit at the time and is currently in a $116 million hole because of the pandemic. The contract is estimated to save San Francisco some $7.1 million in the current fiscal year.

While a representative for Breed told the board Nov. 17 that rejecting the contract would not necessarily mean layoffs, supervisors Shamann Walton and Matt Haney expressed concerns about workers losing their jobs.

And Supervisor Aaron Peskin argued that the SFPOA has been more willing to come to the table on reform under Montoya than previous leaders.

After the vote, Ronen told the Examiner most of her colleagues believe in police reform, or “changing the way we police our residents.”

“But it’s not enough to post on social media and make speeches,” Ronen said. “We have to use our powers and authorities that urgently push for reforms.”

John Crew, a police reform advocate and retired ACLU attorney, said this is the first “concrete” vote the current board has taken on reform in his memory.

“Most of them voted against it,” Crew said. “That says a lot about the priorities of this allegedly ‘progressive,’ allegedly ‘pro-civil rights’ city.”

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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