Arbitration Decision: Grievance 2017-01 Surreptitious and Non-consensual Recording of College Committee Meetings

In a recent arbitration hearing, Arbitrator Anne Wallace Q.C. considered the issue of audio recording of College Review Committee (CRC) meetings and deliberations.  The Association filed a grievance when it appeared that one College’s CRC deliberations were being recorded without the knowledge or consent of some of its committee members and without the matter having been specifically addressed by the CRC’s own operating procedures.

The Arbitrator rejected the Association’s allegations that the recordings were surreptitious as the evidence did not establish that the recordings were “clandestine” or done in secret.  Nor does the recording of a collegial meeting violate privacy rights when the recording is done for the purpose of accurately stating, for the official record, the rationale for the decision.

However, the grievance was successful in part as on the evidence, the Arbitrator did conclude that the collective agreement was breached, as the meetings were recorded without the CRC having decided as part of their operating procedures to record the meetings.

The arbitration decision makes it very clear that the audio recording of CRC meetings and deliberations with respect to renewal of probation, tenure, promotion and salary review are permissible provided the College Review Committee determines, as part of their written operating procedures, that recording of the meetings are permissible.

The arbitrator affirmed the USFA’s position that collegial committees as established by the Collective Agreement shall determine their own operating procedures provided they are consistent with the collective agreement. Accordingly, the collegial committees shall have the right to determine whether or not their committee proceedings will be recorded and under what circumstances. The Chair of the committee does not unilaterally determine whether the proceedings will be recorded.