The rules of governing
The name of the Local Chapter shall be the Centre County Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.
The Centre County Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means/resources of production are democratically and socially controlled.
DSA rejects an economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.
DSA envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources, production, and economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.
Our conception of socialism is a profoundly democratic one. It is rooted in the belief that human beings should be free to develop to their fullest potential, that public policies should be determined not by wealth but by popular participation, and that individual liberties should be carefully safeguarded. It is committed to a freedom of speech that does not recoil from dissent, to a freedom to organize independent trade unions, women’s groups, political parties, and other formations – recognizing these as essential bulwarks against the dangers of an intrusive state. It is committed to a freedom of religion that acknowledges the rights of those for whom spiritual concerns are central.
We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision. In the present, we are building a visible socialist presence within the broad democratic Left. In the long run, we hope to build a majority movement capable of making democratic socialism a reality in the United States. Our strategy acknowledges the class structure of the U.S. society. This class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population.
Members of the Centre County Local Chapter of DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full and who reside and/or work within the Local Chapter’s jurisdiction. Individuals may not be members of the Local Chapter without being members of national DSA. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the Local Chapter, to elect delegates to the national convention, to vote on matters related to national policy, and to make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Remedy up to and including expulsion will be determined by majority vote of the Steering Committee based upon the request of the accuser, the severity of the offense, the response of the accused, and the recommendation of the ombudsperson. Where possible, investigation and remedy will be conducted according to the principle of restorative justice. All parties have the right to appeal the form of relief determined by the Steering Committee within 30 calendar days. If they are not satisfied with the Steering Committee’s final disposition, they have the right to appeal the form of relief to the National Grievance Officer. Determinations made by the national organization are final and cannot be appealed.
Abuse or contravention of the grievance procedure is expressly prohibited. Nothing within the grievance procedure will be construed to deprive members of their legal rights.
The Local Chapter establishes a system of suggested Local Chapter monthly pledges. Membership and participation will not be contingent upon the payment of pledges, and will not differ based upon the size of pledges.
The Local Chapter will hold a minimum of one Convention annually for purposes of electing officers, to take place in September 2018, and the month of April thereafter. All members of the Local Chapter will be sent notice of and an agenda for the Convention. Notice may be sent by electronic means, but individuals who have not provided an email address must be sent a paper copy. The Convention will elect Local Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. It is the highest legislative body of the Local Chapter. The Convention may coincide with a Regular Meeting.
The Local Chapter will hold Regular Meetings monthly, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Local Chapter Steering Committee. The Regular Meetings will set Local Chapter policy and work priorities.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local Chapter.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local Chapter on five days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
A quorum of 20 percent of the members (but not fewer than six persons) is required for the Convention. A quorum of 15 percent (but not fewer than six persons) is required for Regular or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
We will strive for consensus. Discussions will be conducted according to progressive stack. Decisions will be made by two thirds majority of voting members, not counting abstentions. These rules shall apply to all meetings. This process may be used to agree to use different rules for a meeting or decision i.e.: Robert’s Rules of Order, a vote of any sort on a decision, etc.
The officers of the Local Chapter will be two Co-Chairs, Secretary, and Treasurer. The term of office will be from October 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019, and one year thereafter from May 1 to April 30, or until their successors are elected. The officers may not all be cisgender men.
In the event of a vacancy in any Local Chapter office, the Local Chapter Steering Committee will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term,
The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the Local Chapter. All funds collected by the Local Chapter will be turned over to the Treasurer, who shall deposit them in a bank account under the name of the Local Chapter. In cooperation with the Secretary, the Treasurer will be responsible for ensuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will prepare the annual Local Chapter financial report to the Convention of the Local Chapter. Budgets will be created in accordance with the principle of participatory budgeting. Periodic progress reports will be made available as requested by the Steering Committee or membership of the Local Chapter.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the Local Chapter, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee will be composed of the four officers and three elected at-large members of the Local Chapter. The chair(s) of any Local Chapter branches will serve as ex officio members who shall have a vote but shall not count towards quorum. No more than five of seven seats may be occupied by cisgender men.
The meetings of the Steering Committee will be held at the call of one of the Co-Chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Steering Committee Meeting or by consultation with any five members of the Steering Committee. All members of the Steering Committee must (ordinarily) be given four days oral, written, or email notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances. Steering Committee business may be transacted via e-mail, phone call, or other means upon majority consent of the Committee.
A quorum of five of the seven officers of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.
A branch is a subgroup of the Local Chapter consisting of at least five members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography or spoken or signed language. The chairs of branches will hold membership on the Local Chapter Steering Committee.
A branch may be formed by petition of at least five members in good standing. The petition shall be approved or rejected at a regular meeting and the branch, if approved, shall be established on a provisional basis. At the next convention, the application of the provisional branch shall be ratified or rejection. Upon ratification, the branch shall receive representation on the chapter steering committee.
Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) chapters within the geographic area defined by a DSA Local Chapter may affiliate as a branch of that Local Chapter, in which case the local YDSA chapter may send a representative to the Local Chapter Steering Committee. YDSA delegates will have voting rights on the Steering Committee, not to exceed three full votes.
Written proposals for the creation of a new Working Group will define the scope of its work, the resources needed, and a tentative timeline. The proposal should also include a nomination for a Chair of the Working Group from among the membership. Working Groups may be established by a vote of members in good standing at a Regular Meeting of the Local Chapter upon receipt of a written proposal.
Grounds for suspension of charter will be organizational dysfunction, failure to make progress, or accomplishment of goals. Suspension of charter will require five of seven affirmative Steering Committee votes.
Chairs of Working Groups will keep the Steering Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local Chapter informed on the activities of the committee.
Ad Hoc Committees will be formed for explicit tasks and approved by vote of the membership at a regular meeting, emergency meeting, special meeting, or convention. The meeting will approve a point person for the Ad Hoc Committee who will facilitate the completion of its duties. Membership in Ad Hoc Committees is open to the entire membership.
The Ad Hoc Committees will exist for the time period necessary to complete the explicit tasks.
The point person for the Ad Hoc Committees will keep the Steering Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local Chapter informed on the activities of the committee.
The Local Chapter may vote on and publicize official positions relevant to elections for the National Political Committee or matters before the National Convention at the last Regular Meeting before the National Convention.
Centre County Local Chapter shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501 © 4 organizations or similar rules established by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Officers may be recalled for nonfeasance, malfeasance, or misconduct. Recall can be initiated through petition of 30% of the membership. Upon verification of the petition, the Steering Committee shall set a date no less than one month and no greater than three months to vote upon recall. The date may be challenged by the petitioners until a mutually agreed upon date is reached. Recall must be approved by an in person vote with a majority of the chapter’s total membership voting in the affirmative.
Candidates for endorsement must maintain positions consistent with the determined National Priorities as set by the DSA Convention and the priorities of the Local.
Candidates must first be proposed to the Electoral Working Group for endorsement. The Electoral Working Group will vet and research the candidate, collect a candidate survey, and prepare a report with a recommendation for the membership prior to an endorsement meeting. The Electoral Working Group will not determine whether a candidate advances to a vote.
Candidates will be required to speak to an endorsement meeting of the Local. In extreme circumstances, a surrogate will be accepted. Endorsement meetings will be set with a minimum of two weeks advance notice. An affirmative vote of at least 60% of those present will be required to endorse.
Endorsement for or against ballot initiatives or referenda will first be proposed to the Electoral Working Group for endorsement. The Electoral Working Group will research the issue and prepare a report with a recommendation for the membership prior to an endorsement meeting. The Electoral Working Group will not determine whether or not an issue advances to a vote.
Sponsoring organizations may, at the discretion of the Steering Committee, be allowed to speak for or against initiatives or referenda. Endorsement meetings will be set with a minimum of two weeks advance notice. An affirmative vote of at least 60% of those present will be required to endorse.
Endorsement for direct actions, protests, and events will be proposed to an agenda of a regular meeting. Endorsement meetings will require two weeks advance notice. An affirmative vote of at least 60% of those present will be required to endorse.
In emergency circumstances, the Steering Committee may endorse a direct action, protest, or event through affirmative vote of five of seven members. The Steering Committee may not endorse in contravention of a prior vote or position of the Local. If a regular meeting is held after a Steering Committee vote but before the event, direct action, or protest, the membership may overturn the endorsement through affirmative vote of 60% of those present. The Steering Committee will be expected to report to the membership on the reason for their vote prior to the date of any event, direct action, or protest.
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of the Local Chapter of DSA, and submitted to the Steering Committee a month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Steering Committee is required to provide the Local Chapter membership with two weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a majority vote of two consecutive (Regular or General) Local Chapter meetings.
REVISED BYLAWS APPROVED SEPTEMBER 29, 2018.