Union reps for San Francisco Zoo say radio used to spy on employees

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A spying scandal is emerging from the unlikeliest of places, the San Francisco Zoo.

A spying scandal is emerging from the unlikeliest of places, the San Francisco Zoo.

Union representative for workers says the zoo bought radios as a safety feature after an ABC7 News I-Team report revealed the "code red" siren system wasn't working.

Now the union claims the radios are being used to listen in on employees' private conversations.

The teamster's representative for San Francisco Zoo Keepers says the union learned about the radios from a whistleblower, a non-union, member of management.

"He came to one of our union stewards and said, 'I overheard the director of operations, and a couple of his buddies, listening in on the conversation of another manager and they were making fun of him,'" said Tim Jenkins, Local 856 labor representative.

The union claims two radios had the remote monitor feature enabled, those belonging to the zoo's executive director and vice president of operations. No zoo employees knew the feature existed.

"Our employees carry their radios with them everywhere they go, all the time: on their lunch breaks, in the bathroom, when they step outside to have a private conversation with their spouse. And all the while this feature was enabled. Those two people could turn on the microphone on the radio and listen to it like a bug. Like they were being bugged," Jenkins said.

In a statement, San Francisco Zoo executive director Tanya Peterson said "Monitoring was a vendor feature designed to assist with medical and safety emergencies. When I was made aware of the radio's capabilities, this feature was disabled."

The union has scheduled a news conference for Thursday.

They're asking for a thorough investigation. If laws were broken they say they will seek prosecution.
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