Officers voted all week. The results were tallied Friday. The outcome surprised the leadership of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
"It was almost an even split; 589 were against the tentative agreement, 569 approved the tentative agreement," SF POA Interim President Marty Halloran said.
The extension of the contract failed by 20 votes. Only about half of the 2,100 members voted.
Halloran said that with the new contract, officers in San Francisco would remain as the highest paid of any major law enforcement agency in the country.
"We felt the city was offering us a very good deal, considering our place in the Bay Area and the comparable agencies such as San Jose and Oakland," Halloran said.
The city was offering a 6 percent wage increase, spread incrementally over three years. Some officers apparently felt the city could do better, considering the healthy economic climate. Others objected to the gradual phase out of unused sick pay which officers now can take when they retired.
"That's basically going away throughout the state and we're one of the last agencies that still have it," Sgt. Pat Tobin said.
Tobin, who works out of Central Station, says he voted it down because the contract was too long.
"I didn't feel like getting locked into a contract that ended in 2018; I think a shorter contract would have been better," Tobin said.
Chief Greg Suhr says his department is in a state flux. Hundreds of new recruits are being hired. Many more are transferring in from other police agencies.
"People vote their own interests and we have very divergent interests right now," Suhr said.
Mayor Ed Lee was still optimistic.
"It's just maybe conversing with them ongoing on what else can we tweak to make this something that they would support," he said.
If the union and the city fail to reach an extension, they'll have to go through full blown negotiations before the current contract expires in 2015, an exhaustive process no one seems to want.