As amended July 17, 2020.
Article I. Name.
The name of the Local Chapter shall be the San Diego Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (National DSA). National DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.
Article II. Purpose
Section 1. Preamble.
We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, disability status, age, religion, and national origin, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships. We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision, for building a majority movement that will make democratic socialism a reality in America. We believe that such a strategy must acknowledge the class structure of American society and that 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.
Section 2. Mission and Principles.
To promote the organization and resistance of the working class and the broader block of the oppressed in order to abolish relationships of domination and exploitation. Stated plainly, socialism. Ours is a mission of abolition of capitalist relations: we desire to break free from the oppressive relations of power that define what we are in order to see what we can become.
We engage in this process through a democratic procedure and through a conduct of solidarity and mutual aid.
At the root of our socialism is a profound commitment to democracy, as means and end. DSA fights for reforms today that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people. For example, we support reforms that:
- decrease the influence of money in politics
- empower ordinary people in workplaces and the economy
- restructure gender and cultural relationships to be more equitable.
We are activists committed to democracy as not simply one of our political values but our means of restructuring society. Our vision is of a society in which people have a real voice in the choices and relationships that affect the entirety of our lives. We call this vision democratic socialism — a vision of a more free, democratic and humane society.
Article III. Membership.
Section 1. Qualification.
Membership shall be open to every dues paying member of the DSA who resides or works in San Diego County.
Unless otherwise requested by the member, every dues-paying member of DSA who resides in San Diego County. shall be a member of the San Diego Chapter. In special circumstances, membership may be granted to a non-resident.
Subsection 1.1. Ban On Law Enforcement Officers
Law enforcement officers and their functionaries are banned from DSA, including officers, or employees of any police, sheriff, FBI, CIA, U.S Marshals, DHS, CBP, and ICE agencies, any prison guards, and those of the city attorney, district attorney, or U.S attorney’s office involved in criminal prosecution.
Section 2. Dues.
Dues are set by the DSA National and must be paid to the DSA National office. Voluntary member dues may be established on behalf of DSA San Diego, but their nonpayment may not restrict membership status or eligibility to participate in the General Assembly or serve in Working Groups, or Branches.
The General Assembly may consent to pay the dues on behalf of its members on a case-by-case basis, ensuring the fair and equitable treatment of all Chapter members.
Section 3. “Good Standing.”
Members are considering in “Good Standing.” provided that they are considered in good standing with DSA National and may participate in all decisions or activities of the Chapter on the provision that they act in accordance with the mission and principles as articulated in Article II, and observing the code of conduct in the following section.
All persons participating in the activities of San Diego DSA Working Groups or Branches, or exercising any other decision making role in the Chapter, must, after a possible brief introductory period, be members in good standing of the DSA.
Section 4. Socialist and Democratic Code of Conduct.
In keeping with the general mission of our organization and our chapter, all membership must observe a code of conduct that exemplifies solidarity and mutual aid — the cornerstones of democracy and socialism. This means, firstly, that our members are to be held in good faith as comrades. And as comrades, we struggle to understand where we all are coming from and to be patient with these sometimes tense viewpoints. Comrades are to treat each other with utmost respect, at all times, and exemplify socialist and democratic ideals -.
However, if a member promotes a toxic environment or consistently and repeatedly betrays the principles outlined here or in our “Mission and Principles” section, then their good standing is subject to revocation by either the General Assembly or any mediating/conflict resolution body/organ (and its process) established by the Chapter (see subsections 4.1 and 4.2).
Subsection 4.1. General Dispute Resolution
The 2018/2019 Steering Committee is Directed to Draft a proposal for this section to be Passed, Amended or Rejected by the General Assembly. The first instance of making the General Dispute Resolution process may be passed as a simple resolution and need not meet the super-majority normally required to amend these bylaws.
Subsection 4.2. Harassment Policy.
In line with the DSA Harassment Policy passed by Resolution 33 at the August 2017 national convention, DSA San Diego follows a democratically-adopted policy for investigating and resolving harassment grievances. Our policy attempts to correct for majoritarian biases by devolving decisions to groups directly impacted by a range of common harms — non-men for sexual abuse and gender harassment; people of color for racial bias, insensitivity, and harassment; and queer/trans individuals for cishet discrimination. We recognize that whorephobia is often overlooked, and that is why our policy explicitly supports sex workers. We also recognize the reality of generalized aggression and look to this policy and its implementers for remedies there as well.
Firm as we must be in responding to threats to member safety, DSA San Diego hopes the net result of this policy is a positive atmosphere in which members recognize our potential for continual improvement at the levels of the individual and the collective.
Adopted directly from DSA National Harassment Policy, passed as Resolution #33 at the 2017 National Convention.
- Prohibited behavior – identity-based. Members shall not engage in harassment, defined in (d) below, on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, disability, race, color, religion, national origin, class, age, or profession, or status as a sex worker.
- Prohibited behavior – other protected classes. A member who feels they are a victim of harassment based on identity not of a category listed in section (a), can ask the HGOs to evaluate their complaint as an identity based complaint. The HGOs will have a discretion to treat the case as identity based.
- Prohibited behavior – Non-identity based. Members shall not engage in harassment or abusive behavior, such as bullying, violence, intimidation, and gaslighting of other members, regardless of identity. We recognize that political disagreement can become heated, and that we don’t have to like each other to organize together, but if a dispute crosses over from polemic or insensitive into harassment or abuse, then it can be addressed by the HGO process.
- Harassing or abusive behavior, such as unwelcome attention1, inappropriate or offensive remarks, slurs, or jokes, physical or verbal intimidation, stalking, inappropriate physical contact or proximity, and other verbal and physical conduct constitute harassment when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a member’s continued affiliation with DSA;
- Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for organizational decisions affecting such individual; or
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile environment interfering with an individual’s capacity to organize within DSA.2
- Such conduct is unallowable anywhere, whether it takes place in DSA spaces, in the wider community, or online.
1 “Unwelcome” means in the sense that the member did not solicit or incite it, and in the sense that the member regarded the conduct as undesirable or offensive. See Henson v. City of Dundee, 682 F.2d 897, 903 (11th Cir. 1982).
2 A “hostile environment” is one in which the harassment is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of membership and create an abusive organizing environment. See Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 67 (1986). Whether harassment is severe enough to reach this level is determined by whether a reasonable person would be offended by the conduct. See id. at 77. Further, in evaluating the severity and pervasiveness of harassment under this standard, DSA representatives should focus on the perspective of the victim. See Ellison v. Brady, 924 F.2d 872, 878 (9th Cir. 1991). This means critically analyzing, among other things, the different perspectives of those in a protected class. See id.
Harassment Grievance Officer (HGO) Appointment Procedure
Appointment of two Harassment Grievance Officers will take place as a discussion, and then vote at an HGO appointment meeting dedicated to this purpose meeting. The date and location of the appointment meeting will be communicated to the full chapter at least 30 days in advance.
Participants of the HGO appointment meeting must be members in good standing. Eligible voters must comprise a minimum two-thirds of people who are not men or who identify as a member of a marginalized identity. If more than one-third of the group is non-marginal identity men, the men must exit the meeting space to discuss which will participate in the discussion. This is designed to keep non-majority voices and experiences at the center of these decisions.
HGOs will serve one-year terms. Should an HGO leave the chapter before the end of their term or resign from HGO responsibilities, a caucus organized around affinities of marginalized identity or, should such a caucus be unable or unwilling, the Steering Committee will convene a special meeting to appoint a partial-term HGO.
An HGO for DSA San Diego cannot hold a position on the Steering Committee while also holding the billet of HGO.
Harassment Grievance Officer Responsibilities
Harassment Grievance Officers are responsible for responding to grievances that occur within the chapter. Grievances are filed when a member fills out the form available on the DSA San Diego website in the “Harassment Grievance” section, or completes the PDF version of the form and submits to firstname.lastname@example.org. HGOs will receive, acknowledge receipt of, and process filed reports. Within seven days of receiving a report, they will respond to the Filer and explain the next steps. Respecting the privacy of both parties, HGOs will not discuss grievances with chapter members or leadership beyond the minimum threshold necessary for just and restorative decisions.
In most cases, at that point the Filer will have the opportunity to decide whether to continue in the grievance process, knowing the limits of the process based on what their grievance is (for example, whether or not to enter mediation). The Filer must make their decision within a week.
In cases where particularly severe behavior is alleged, the HGOs should move forward regardless of the Filer’s willingness to participate in the grievance process. Reports of abuse on social media or in conversation may constitute grounds for HGOs to begin an investigation.
Once the filer of a grievance is briefed and agrees to proceed, the HGOs are then responsible for initially gauging credibility through fact-finding. HGOs should assess if the grievance in question is retaliatory or otherwise an abuse of the grievance process. Their fact-finding process should center survivors. Preliminary investigation may include interviewing other people with direct experience with the specific grievance, requesting further documentation, and speak to the Filer and Subject of the grievance. The goal is to gauge credibility — not gather every fact. The preliminary investigation will take no more than a week, regardless Subject cooperation or the availability of evidence.
The HGOs should then determine whether a grievance may be resolved via direct or indirect mediation in a sensitive manner — with the consent of the Filer — or if a grievance warrants suspending the subject and convening an ad hoc panel accountable for determining disciplinary action. Guidance for assessing the severity of the alleged behavior is provided below.
If mediation is deemed appropriate by the HGOs, both parties must participate in good faith. The Filer may choose at any point to appeal to the ad hoc panel and skip the mediation process.
If the Subject does not participate in the preliminary investigation or mediation in good faith, they will be suspended while an ad hoc panel is formed to determine disciplinary action. In the case of identity-based grievances, panels will be at least three-fifths constituted by members of the indicated identity. If the Filer becomes absent or unavailable for participation, the HGOs will decide whether to convene an ad hoc panel to continue the process.
A mediation will be considered concluded when both parties agree to the terms for conclusion. Should either party revoke their agreement with the resolution decided by mediation, the HGOs will immediately continue the grievance process by convening an ad hoc panel.
When an ad hoc panel makes its decision, the HGOs are responsible to implement that decision, potentially giving directions on the disposition of the Subject’s membership to the Steering Committee, the Chapter, and other relevant parties.
Once the investigation is concluded by either the HGO or the ad hoc panel, the HGO will document the recommended remedies. Documentation will be transferred from HGOs rotating out to new appointees, to assure accountability beyond HGO terms and a reference record of repeat offenses.
Members have the right to appeal identity-based HGO decisions to the DSA National HGO, a staff member vetted and appointed by the National Political Committee. Local expulsions for any reason may be appealed to the National Political Committee.
Ad Hoc Harassment Grievance Panel
Panel and Panel Makeup:
- HGOs may assemble a panel to make disciplinary recommendations on an ad hoc basis, with panel members chosen in line with the individual grievance and per identity traits self-disclosed by volunteer panelists. The purpose of the panel is to provide further assistance decision-making on the outcome of grievance cases where the HGO determines the grievance is irresolvable via direct or indirect mediation.
- The panel will vary based on the specifics of the grievance. It is the goal of DSA San Diego to form panels of people who self-identify in similar ways to the aggrieved. This is meant to make the person who filed the grievance feel more comfortable, as they know that their case will be heard by people who understand their unique struggles. Some of the suggested guidelines for panel selection based on hypothetical harassment scenarios are listed here:
- Racial harassment 3⁄5 people of color
- Cishet discrimination 3⁄5 queer voices
- Sexual harassment 3⁄5 non-man voices
- Disability-based harassment or discrimination, 3⁄5 non abled bodies
- To serve on a panel, one must be a dues-paying, active member of DSA San Diego.
- Serving on a panel will be voluntary. To volunteer, a member can sign up on a Google form that will be created by the HGOs and shared with the general membership. This form will ask members to self-identify if they feel comfortable doing so, so as to be able to form panels that consist of people who can identify with the aggrieved.
Results of HGO Decisions (Suspension and Expulsion)
Grievances that are brought to the HGOs will fall into three categories after an investigation has concluded:
- No justified grievance found
- Suspension: harassing member must perform specified tasks (e.g., training) in order to return to full participation in chapter activities
If a grievance is not found to be justified, no further action shall take place.
If a grievance is found to be justified once the investigation has concluded, further action will be taken by the panel. It may be decided that a suspension of a member or members is necessary while they complete further actions before they return to full participation in DSA San Diego. This may include sensitivity training, anger management training, or other programs meant to encourage personal growth and learning.
If it is decided by the HGOs and the panel that expulsion of a member or members is necessary, the member or members have the right to appeal to the national HGO for further review of the case.
Subsection 4.3. Political Discipline.
DSA San Diego is a multi-tendency organization without expectation of political unity or an ideologically proscriptive obedience. Members are nonetheless asked to regard our democratically articulated political Mission and Principles, as stated in these bylaws, as our shared yet diversely understood praxis. Behavior clearly contradicting or obstructing progress toward the Mission and Principles as stated in these bylaws, or in violation of the Socialist and Democratic Code of Conduct may subject a membership to sanction up to and including expulsion by the Steering Committee.
Procedure. The 2018/2019 Steering Committee is Directed to Draft a proposal for this section to be Passed, Amended or Rejected by the General Assembly. The first instance of making the General Dispute Resolution process may be passed as a simple resolution and need not meet the super-majority normally required to amend these bylaws. The language is to include procedure for the Steering Committee or some other body to bring and hear sanction charges, with right of defense and appeal for the person being charged.
Article IV. Meetings.
Section 1. Annual Convention
Open to all membership of the Chapter and shall be organized by a joint committee of the outgoing and incoming (elect) Steering Committees to be held once a year. The Annual Convention will provide membership with presentations of all ongoing campaigns and receive input from broad membership.
Given limited resources and capacities, membership will also decide which campaign committees are to be prioritized by the most active members, and that these campaigns receive maximum effort and are allocated sufficient resources in order to be successful.
While the Steering Committee is responsible for drafting agenda, it must also query membership for any additional motions or discussions that wish to be passed.
As the foundation of the chapter, the steering committee and all other committees are subject to the direction and critique of the assembly.
Officers will be elected after the Annual Convention.
The Steering Committee should draft and publish criteria and timelines for those running for External Organizer so outlines of each candidates proposed program can be submitted and published to the membership in advance of the Annual Convention.
The Annual Convention shall be considered the “Annual Meeting” where local or state law may require.
Subsection 1.1. Major Campaign Selection.
At each Annual Convention members advocating a major will present their proposals for Major Campaigns for the coming year(s). The various proposals will be discussed, critiqued, and modified. Ultimately, the various proposals will be voted on by the Assembly and the top two vote getters will be selected.
Major Campaigns, being approved by the membership should be privileged in resources, space at meetings, and budgeting by the Steering Committee.
Section 2. Steering Committee
Composed of a) elected officers (2 co-chairs, a Secretary, 2 external organizers, 2 internal organizers, treasurer, and a YDSA Liaison); b) delegates (see section VI.5.) sent from Major Campaign committees; and 3) branch delegates. Steering Committee shall meet at least once month. Steering committee is responsible for overseeing the cross-organization coordination of the Chapter, and for preparing forums and assemblies.
Section 3. Working Group Meetings.
Working Group meetings are where things get done at DSA San Diego and are to meet at least once a month. Working Groups are open to anyone and can be formed membership please and require at least three members to form (unless otherwise stated by the steering committee). These are subject to the critique of the steering committee and the general assembly.
All Working Groups must elect at least one co-chair who oversees the execution of tasks within the committee and who will be tasked with maintaining communication with the Steering Committee and/or attending steering committee meetings.
Internal Working Groups, Resource Working Groups, Steering Committee-Subcommittees, and Caucuses are those that ensure the reproduction and growth of the organization. These include conflict resolution committees, internal communications, research, etc.
Campaign Working Groups are geared towards campaigns that the execution of the Chapter’s socialist strategy. Any member belonging to the San Diego Local Chapter may join a campaign committee, including branch members.
Section 4. Regular General Assembly Meeting
Open to all membership, the Steering Committee shall organize quarterly assemblies where membership will be provided with presentation of on-going DSA activities, and the most active members and elected leadership will be provided with input and get direction from a wider membership.
These spaces will also be used as a place for the wide membership to bring suggestions, questions, and grievances to the Chapter as they please. Steering Committee will be responsible to query membership in order to draft agenda.
These meetings must happen at least quarterly, but at the Steering Committee’s discretion can be held more often.
Section 5. Branch Meetings.
A branch is a subgroup formed to facilitate participation in the Local Chapter in a logistically convenient way. branches may be defined by geography (such as a neighborhood), membership, in an institution (such as a worksite or school), or language. It is expected that branches by able to carry out as much of the pillar functions of the Chapter for their members as necessary for their logistical purposes. The chair of a branch shall hold membership in the Steering Committee of the Chapter. Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) chapters within the geographic area defined by a DSA Chapter may affiliate as a branch of that Chapter, in which case the local YDSA chapter may send a representative to the Chapter Steering Committee.
Subsection 5.1. Branch Formation.
Branches may be formed when five (5) or more members of the Local Chapter, in good standing may request to be recognized as a Branch. They must apply to the Steering Committee in writing. Their application must include names of its members; a description of purposes, functions, and membership criteria; and any other information deemed necessary by the Steering Committee. A majority vote of the general membership at a GA Meeting shall be required to establish a Branch. YDSA chapters need only show proof of being an officially recognized chapter of YDSA as part of a generic request to be recognized as a Branch of the Local Chapter, subject to approval by a majority vote of the general membership at a Meeting.
Subsection 5.2. Structure, Membership, and Elections.
Each Branch shall have its own bylaws explicitly defining its purpose, functions, and membership criteria in detail. Such bylaws may establish the Branch’s methods and structures as long as they do not violate these [Chapters] bylaws. Each Branch shall be responsible for electing its Branch leadership and Steering Committee representation. Branch leaders shall be responsible for scheduling and organizing meetings and actions of their Branch. In the event of vacancy of a Branch leader or Steering Committee representative, the Branch may vote to elect new leadership or Steering Committee representation.
Subsection 5.3. Dissolution.
A Branch may have its status revoked by a majority vote of the membership at a Quarterly Assembly. A Branch may also choose to dissolve itself by means specified in its Branch bylaws. In the event that a Branch chooses to split into several new Branches, each new Branch must apply for membership through the same method as creating any Branch, although the Steering Committee may choose to waive requirements for certain documentation if it is identical to the prior or parent Branch.
Section 6. Special Meetings.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee or five percent of the membership may call a Special Meeting of the Local Chapter on at least seven days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation. No matters other than those listed in the meeting notice may be brought to or raised from the floor at a Special Meeting.
Section 7. Quorum.
Given the multiplicity of spaces, standards of quorum will range across spaces.
Steering Committee Quorum: 60 percent of all regular steering committee members must be present in order to transact business.
Working Group Meeting Quorum: Shall be set by the application for forming the Working Group, and approved by the Steering Committee and ratified by the GA.
General Assembly Quorum: Shall be 40 percent of the average attendance from the previous quarter. Attendance of members in good standing shall be taken at each meeting and averaged quarterly to determine quorum for the next quarter.
Article V. Governance.
Section 1. General Assembly.
The General Assembly is any meeting of the general membership, either in Annual Convention, the Quarterly Meetings (or more frequently as the Steering Committee may schedule), or special meeting. The General Assembly is considered to be the body with the highest decision making authority in the Chapter. However, given that the General Assembly is also the body that requires the most participation administrative tasks are delegated to the Steering Committee, Officers, and Working Groups.
Subsection Section 1.1. Membership Control of Agenda.
Generally speaking, the Steering Committee (see section “2” below) will set the agenda for meetings of the General Assembly, however if a significant portion of the membership would like to agendize an item which the Steering Committee cannot or will not agendize the general membership or a portion thereof may place an item on the agenda for the next General Assembly meeting by petition as follows.
The petition shall be no more than 10 pages (11 point font), and provide an explanation of the proposed action, be it an amendment of these bylaws, a reversing of a Steering Committee action, an affirmative action.
The petition must be issued to the Steering Committee by emailing it to the Secretary. Once the email is sent to the Secretary the petition may be circulated to membership for signature. The signature period shall last for 13 weeks or one quarter of a year.
If a number of members amounting to 10% of total which voted in the last election for Steering Committee sign the petition within the signature period, then the agenda item will be placed on the next meeting of the General Assembly. The Steering Committee can, if it elects to, call a Special Meeting, as described by these bylaws, to address the issue. The agenda item shall be circulated to the membership as all agenda items regularly are. The motion will be heard as any other motion, subject to normal rules.
Subsection Section 1.2. Membership Call for Special Meeting.
A petition as set out in Section 1.1 above may call for a Special Meeting for the item(s) to be heard and deliberated on. However to call a Special Meeting the petition must achieve the signatures of 20% of total which voted in the last election for Steering Committee. If a petition calls for a Special Meeting but achieves 10% or more signatures, but does not achieve 20% or more signatures, the Steering Committee must treat it as a successful petition under Section 1.1.
Subsection Section 1.3. Voting Agenda Availability
The Steering Committee shall make available to members a list of voting items no less than 1 week before the general assembly meeting which will consider them.
Subsection Section 1.4. Online Voting
For immediate decisions needing to be considered before the general assembly can meet, such as endorsement of an upcoming action or new coalition, the Steering Committee may hold an online referendum to consider the issue, with a minimum voting period of two days. Online voting is for decisions where the available options are tightly constrained (e.g. we are asked to endorse an event or coalition as it is — we either do or do not), or in emergencies.
Subsection Section 1.5. Absentee/Proxy Voting
Members fulfilling DSA duties on the day of the general assembly meetings, such as security, childwatch, or other DSA work, who want to vote on any issue being considered, can do so by emailing the Steering Committee with their conflict, and their position on each voting item, and their vote will be counted as if they were there. They can also choose a proxy voter to cast their vote for them, specifying that member’s name in the email. Members are allowed to proxy vote for only one person at any given time.
Section 2. Steering Committee.
Steering Committee is the core oversight organ of the Local Chapter composed of elected officers, Major Campaign chairs, and delegates of the Branches of the Local Chapter.
Subsection Section 2.1. Administration.
The Steering Committee shall administer the daily activities of the Chapter, including setting agendas for the Annual Convention, General Meetings, and Special Meetings, as well as reviewing the work performed by the various Officers and Working Groups.
Subsection Section 2.2. Powers.
The Steering Committee is given the following specific powers:
- Execute the duties of the various officers, as set out in these bylaws.
- Execute the directives of successful motions of the General Assembly, which are not called to be execute by Working Group, in conformance with these bylaws and the relevant motion of the General Assembly.
- Create committees for the performance of the tasks assigned to the Steering Committee and the various officers (Sub-Committees of the Steering Committee, described in section VI.7. of these bylaws.), in conformance with these bylaws.
- Raise and allocate funds, in conformance with these bylaws, and executed by the Treasurer.
- Call for reports and information from Officers, Working Groups, Branches, and Sub-Committees.
Subsection Section 2.3. Policies.
The Steering Committee shall be tasked with drafting policies to address day to day activities and gaps in these Bylaws. The Steering Committee shall have the power to draft and pass regulations dealing with the following:
- Information Policy governing the Steering Committee, Officers and Subcommittees.
- Rules of decorum of the meetings of the Steering Committee, and Subcommittees.
- Delegation of its authority to its various sub-committees.
The Steering Committee is invited to develop and present regulations and policies dealing with the following items to be passed, amended or rejected by the General Assembly:
- Information Policy governing Working Groups and Caucuses.
- Rules of Decorum covering the meetings of Working Groups, and the General Assembly.
- Use of the Chapters website and social media accounts.
- In concert with the Electoral Working Group, criteria for Endorsement, and other forms of symbolic or material support of Electoral Candidates.
Subsection Section 2.4. Develop and Propose Bylaws Amendments.
The Steering Committee will be some of the most active members of the Chapter, and members most embedded in the governance of the Chapter. As such, Steering Committee members will have valuable insights on how to make the governance of this Chapter more effective. The Steering Committee is invited to develop and present proposed amendments to these bylaws to be passed, amended, or rejected, as called for by these bylaws by the General Assembly.
Section 3. Officers.
Subsection Section 3.1. Officers and Terms.
The officers of the Local Chapter will be 2 Co-Chairs, a Secretary, 2 External Organizers, 2 Internal Organizers, a Treasurer, and a YDSA Liaison). The Term of each officer position is one year. The beginning of the term starts at the date of the Annual Convention to the next Annual Convention.
No member may serve in the position of Co-Chair for more than two consecutive years. No member may serve as any other non-Co-Chair officer position for longer than three years. Term limits will begin to apply in the 2020/2021 year. Service as an officer prior to the 2020/2021 term will not count for the purpose of this term limit.
Exception can be made with a motion passed by the General Assembly to extend any one of the officerships term limit by one year, if the General Assembly finds that filling the position will be difficult to fill otherwise. Under such context an vice officer must be appointed to shadow and support the officers work — and thereby be trained to be able to run for the position in the following year.
Subsection Section 3.2: Attendance
Members of the Steering Committee have a duty and expectation to attend and contribute to all meetings set forth by the Committee.
To be excused from a Steering Committee meeting, members are required to send written, telephone, or electronic communication as an excusal to the Steering Committee prior to a scheduled Steering Committee meeting.
Any Steering Committee member who misses, without excusal, 50% percent of regularly scheduled meetings in a three-month period will be referred to review by the committee and can be subject to removal as articulated in Subsection 3.13. Removal of Officers and Steering Committee Members.
The Steering Committee may consider extraordinary reasons for absence, provided that a member submits a written request for consideration of the Steering Committee.
Subsection Section 3.3. Elections.
All officers will be elected in an online election. Rank choice voting will be used to elect each officer position. Candidates will present at the Convention, with the online election being conducted shortly thereafter.
Subsection Section 3.3.A Election of Treasurer.
The election for treasurer will take place about two months before the current treasurer leaves office. During this transition period, the newly elected treasurer does not replace the current treasurer immediately, but occupies the position of “treasurer elect.” The following procedure will go into effect whenever the current treasurer announces they will not seek re-election; or, announces they are resigning from the office of treasurer before the next election. In either of these cases,
Subsection Section 3.4. Vacancies.
Vacancy Policy for 2018/2019 through 2020/2021: In the event that there are not sufficient candidates to fill the various officerships, those roles will remain open and can be elected at any meeting of the General Assembly by motion. In such event the various roles of unfilled officerships shall be distributed among the Steering Committee members. However, the Steering Committee must have at least five members. If this five member threshold is not met, a special meeting must be held to bring to the General Assembly the question of resolving the deficit in Steering Committee members. In the event of a vacancy occurring in any officership, by resignation, removal or due to incapacitation, a special election for the remainder of the vacant member’s term shall be triggered within thirty (45) days after the opening of the vacancy if regular elections are not to be held within sixty (60) days of the vacancy. Special elections may coincide with a Regular Meeting.
Vacancy Policy beginning 2021/2022: In the event of a vacancy in any Local Chapter office, a special election for the remainder of the vacant member’s term shall be triggered within thirty (45) days after the opening of the vacancy if regular elections are not to be held within sixty (60) days of the vacancy. Special elections may coincide with a Regular Meeting.
Subsection Section 3.5. Co-Chairs.
There will be two Co-Chairs.
The Co-Chairs will preside over Local Chapter and Steering Committee meetings or will appoint a substitute to assume the powers and duties of the presiding officer as specified in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised. The Co-Chairs will be the official public spokespersons for the Local Chapter and will facilitate such actions and policies as the Local Chapter’s general welfare may demand.
The Co-Chairs will report to Local Chapter Regular Meetings on the business of the Steering Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.
Subsection Section 3.6. Secretary.
The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Local Chapter, for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local Chapter, distributing copies of minutes and agendas to each Steering Committee member, and assuring that corporate records are maintained for legal status. They will ensure effective communication with national DSA, including the filing of any amendment to these bylaws. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair if neither Co-Chair is able to do so. The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Local Chapter and Steering Committee Meetings, the collection and maintenance of Committee charters, notes, and meeting minutes, and making copies available to members promptly. They shall have custody of these documents, and of the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local Chapter, and shall transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records shall include the documents necessary for continued functioning of the Local Chapter, such as member lists, and all documentation necessary to provide, to the general membership, transparent accountability of Local Chapter actions and decisions to the greatest reasonable extent.
Subsection Section 3.7. Treasurer.
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 Communications Facilitator, the Treasurer will be responsible for ensuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will chair a Finance Sub-Committee of the Steering Committee if one is established by the Steering Committee; will prepare the annual Local Chapter budget and deliver the Local Chapter financial report to the General Meeting of the Local Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee of the Chapter; will provide basic information to National DSA related to the operations and finances of the Chapter.
Subsection Section 3.8. Internal Organizers.
There will be two Internal Organizers.
Internal Organizers will be responsible for developing membership and membership participation for the Chapter. The Internal Organizers (along with the Secretary) will be responsible facilitating communication within the chapter. Internal education for new members and generally, social functions, and skill sharing will be the focus of the Internal Organizers.
Subsection Section 3.9. External Organizer.
There will be one External Organizers elected at the Convention.
The External Organizer will be responsible for facilitating communication between the chapter and local communities. External Organizers are also tasked with representing the views of the membership that elected them in the greater left community, as well as helping to advance the goals of the Local Chapter generally. The External Organizer will be responsible for developing and providing a series of external organizing skill trainings. These trainings should be provided to members engaged in external organizing. Finally, External Organizers will work with working groups engaged in external organizing to develop campaigns, tactics, and strategies.
Subsection Section 3.10. Branch and YDSA Liaison and Organizer.
The Branch and YDSA Liaison will work to facilitate relationships between local Branches (including YDSA Chapters) and the DSA Chapter, and organize DSA SD Chapter members to provide all appropriate solidarity and support to Branch and YDSA organizers. The goal is to bring Branches and branch members into the political life of the Chapter, while respecting and developing the unique geographical or institutional character of the particular Branch in question. This Branch and YDSA Liaison will also organize geographically clustered groups of members toward forming Branches, where appropriate.
Subsection Section 3.11. Communications Secretary.
The Communications Secretary will facilitate the Chapters work to develop mass communication functions both internally and externally. This shall include but not be limited to: email, Slack, and mass text for internal communication. It shall also include but not be limited to: social media accounts, and the production of media for external communication. The Communications Secretary will develop a media strategy to increase internal connectivity and external reach. The Communications Secretary will work with the Secretary to coordinate response to inquiries on the various communication accounts and channels developed and maintained.
Subsection Section 3.12. Additional Duties
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..
Subsection Section 3.13. Board of Directors
For the purposes of meeting the requirements of local and state incorporation laws, the Chapter shall have a “Board of Directors” consisting of members of the Steering Committee assigned for the purpose as logical and required by law. (For example, if the law requires a “Secretary” then the Chapter’s Communications Facilitator is a logical fit.) Officers of the Steering Committee so appointed do not gain any new or additional powers or responsibilities except those strictly required by law.
Subsection Section 3.14. Removal of Officers and Steering Committee Members.
Any Officer or Steering Committee member may be removed with the vote of the membership as follows. Membership seeking the removal of an officer(s) or Steering Committee member shall circulate a petition, which must state the following: (1) the name of the Officer and or Steering Committee member who the petition seeks to remove; (2) if the person is an officer, their office and duties as stated by these Bylaws; (3) a brief (no more than 1,000 word) explanation of the reason for the proposed removal. The petition must be issued to the Steering Committee by emailing it to the Secretary. Once the email is sent to the Secretary the petition may be circulated to membership for signature. The signature period shall last for 13 weeks or one quarter of a year.
If a number of members amounting to 20% of total which voted in the last election for Steering Committee sign the petition within the signature period, then the motion for removal must be heard at the next meeting of the General Assembly. If the motion is carried by 60% of the voting members (but no less than 50% of the members in attendance), the Officer or Steering Committee member is removed.
If 30% of total which voted in the last election for Steering Committee sign the petition the Officer(s) is suspended from zer duties as a steering committee member, and a Special Meeting must be called within 30 days, at which time the motion for removal will be heard. If the motion is carried by 60% of the voting members (but no less than 50% of the members in attendance), the Officer or Steering Committee member is removed. If the Officer or Steering Committee member is not removed ze is no longer suspended.
Petitions for removal can be circulated online, or in person. Petitions may be circulated at official DSA functions without retaliation, so long as the act of circulating is not disrupting a meeting (such the folks leading the meeting could ask that the circulation take place before or after the meeting, but cannot ask the member circulating the petition to leave).
The Steering Committee may motion to remove a member, by a simple majority of the Steering Committee for any of the following: (1) consistent failure to attend Steering Committee meetings and duties; (2) consistent failure to perform officer duties. In such case the motion to remove will be heard at the next General Assembly meeting. If the motion is carried by 60% of the voting members (but no less than 50% of the members in attendance), the Officer or Steering Committee member is removed.
If an Officer or Steering Committee member is found to be suspended or expelled under this Bylaws’ Harassment Policy or Political Discipline Policy they are removed.
Section 4. Delegates and Nominees to Local, Regional, State, and National Bodies.
Subsection Section 4.1. Annual National Convention.
Local Chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by members in good standing of the Local Chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
Subsection Section 4.2. National Committees.
In the event that a national committee is being formed and the national DSA asks local chapters for nominees to serve on that committee, the Local Chapter Steering Committee shall notify all members in good standing and request volunteers. The names of all those who volunteer shall be forwarded to the national DSA for consideration, or if a limited number of nominees are requested, an election shall be held.
Article VI. Working Groups.
Section 1. Working Group Formation
The Chapter may establish Working Groups to organize around specific functions for the chapter or external campaigns. Members who wish to form a committee must submit a proposed written charter to the Steering Committee that includes a group name; a mission statement and objectives; If necessary, a proposed budget that shall include any planned donation drives; a list of at least five prospective members signed or affirmed by those members; a statement of whether the proposed Working Group is to be a standing committee of indefinite duration or a temporary committee to expire at a time certain or upon the occurrence of a specified event; whether membership in the Working Group is to be open to all members in good standing or limited, and if membership is to be limited, the number of members the Working Group shall have and the means by which members will be selected.
Once approved by Steering Committee the Charters for proposed committees must be distributed to the membership in the manner all other agenda items are distributed prior to the meeting, and may not conflict with these Bylaws or with the charters of other active committees. The Working Group will be officially chartered when the motion to approve it is passed by the General Assembly.
Section 2. Membership and Election of Working Group Leadership.
Membership in a Working Group shall be open to all Chapter members in good standing unless the Working Groups’ charter limits membership, in which case the terms of the charter shall control. Working Groups shall maintain an official membership list. After the committee is created, but by no later than the committee’s second meeting, the Working Group shall hold elections for a chair, co-chairs, or the officers called for by the Working Groups charter. Terms shall be for either six months or one year at the committee members’ choosing, and incumbents may stand for reelection. Non-DSA members may participate in the work of Working Groups but cannot hold leadership positions, or vote on official decisions of the Working Group.
All Working Group Chairs will be expected to report to the Steering Committee on the work of the respective Working Group
Major Campaign Committees Chairs will be members of the Steering Committee.
Section 3. Duties and Responsibilities.
The members of a Working Group are responsible for executing their respective body’s strategy in fulfillment of its objectives. Co-Chairs, if elected, are responsible for organizing their respective body’s members, running meetings, acting as liaisons to the Steering Committee, and serving as the Working Group’s points of contact to the membership.
The Steering Committee can ask that a Working Group keep official records of meeting dates, attendance, and meeting notes, which must be made available to the membership. This power is provided to the Steering Committee so that if there is a controversy about the conduct of a working group the Steering Committee and general membership can have access to information about the activities of said working group. This power should be used judiciously so that unneeded burden is not placed on the activities of our most active members in Working Groups. The Steering Committee should draft procedures to this end and propose then to be passed to the General Assembly.
When a working group’s proposed activities relate to the mission of another Working Group, the co-chairs of that Working Group shall be notified by the Chapter Secretary. Should a dispute arise between two or more Working Groups that cannot be resolved between them, it shall be resolved by an investigation of the Steering Committee (or a sub-committee thereof), which will provide a recommendation to be voted on at a meeting of the General Assembly (Quarterly Meeting or Annual Convention).
A Working Group’s activities shall be reviewed by the Steering Committee at its meetings, and meeting minutes and other Working Group documentation, as well as all financial receipts and statements, shall be kept up to date with the Local Chapter’s Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Working Groups shall report on their activities to the membership at the Annual Convention or more frequently at Quarterly Assemblies.
Section 4. Modification and Dissolution.
Working Groups may be dissolved or may amend their charters, including changes to the committee’s budget, with the approval of a majority of the votes cast at an Annual, Regular, or Special Meeting. Notice of a proposed committee dissolution or an amendment to a committee’s charter must be given to the membership by email or other electronic means at least at least two weeks prior to the meeting.
Additionally, working groups that are chartered as temporary working groups for a limited time or particular purpose shall dissolve automatically upon the expiration of the certain time or the occurrence of the particular event specified in their charter.
Upon dissolution, the member(s) maintaining custody of the committee’s records shall provide copies of those records to the Communications Facilitator.
Section 5. Major Campaign Working Groups.
Major Campaigns Working Groups are the committees formed to execute the campaign which are selected as major campaigns at the Annual Convention. The Major Campaign Working Group has the power to elect a representative of that Working Group to be a member of the Steering Committee. This delegate sent to the Steering Committee can but need not be an officer of the Working Group, as called for by the Working Group’s charter.
Major Campaign Working Groups are approved by the membership at the Annual Convention, and therefore do not need approval of Steering Committee to form, but do need their charter approved by the General Assembly. The Steering Committee should provide guidance with the process of drafting Major Campaign Working Group’s charters.
Section 6. Campaign Working Groups.
Campaign Working Groups are organized around an organizing campaign or field of struggle.
Section 7. Resource Working Groups.
Resource Working Groups are organized around specific skill and needs that can then work with other committee to provide necessary expertise and labor to aid other committee. Examples could be the existing social media working group, or a potential fundraising working group, or a legal committee, or a tech working group.
Section 8. Internal Steering Committee Sub-Committees.
Internal Sub-Committee are subcommittees of the Steering Committee, organized for the purpose of accomplishing the basic logistical tasks and internal development of the Chapter. These Committee may be formed and dissolved at the prerogative of the Steering Committee. For example, the Steering Committee may want to form a subcommittee for planning and doing the work of holding quarterly meetings such, that more members can join in doing that work and coordination, or the treasurer may want to chair a subcommittee devoted to fundraising, etc. Sub-Committees are technically a function of the Steering Committee, and are therefore not “Working Groups” but are described here because they provide another avenue for entry and participation of membership.
Article VII. Caucuses.
Any group of 5 or more members may form a caucus by submitting a proposal to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee must recognize all such groups as caucuses as long as they align with the Chapter’s purpose (see Article II). Such recognition shall not be construed as having authority to officially act on behalf of the Chapter. Caucuses must be permitted to announce their meetings using the communication channels the chapter uses to announce Meetings of the chapter. Caucuses may dissolve themselves by notifying the Steering Committee. Caucuses can be organized around shared identities, or political identities, etc.
Article VIII. Electoral Participation Rules.
Section 1. Definitions
There shall be two tiers of endorsement within the San Diego Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America: Affirmation and Advocacy.
Section 2. Affirmation
Affirmations will be considered the weak form of chapter endorsement and will be formulated by an electoral working group (or in the absence of an existing electoral working group, of an electoral committee of the steering committee). The affirmation must be passed by a simple majority—or 51%—of those voting in a General Assembly meeting and/or via online voting.
The electoral working group (or the Steering Committee in its absence) shall publish the list of proposed affirmations 15 days prior to the General Assembly meeting in which the endorsement will be decided.
A successful affirmation means that the chapter informally endorses the candidate-in-question. If an electoral working group is in existence, the affirmation allows the electoral working group to develop material support for the candidate-in-question, if it so chooses, using only the internal resources of the working group. The working group may not request material assistance from1 the chapter for a candidate that has only been given the chapter’s affirmation. Nor are organs of the chapter e.g. steering committee, sub-committee, working groups, branches, caucuses, etc. able to provide this material assistance of their own volition. With the affirmation, the electoral working group must forge its own path.
The affirmation endorsement cannot be advertised on the chapters external communications networks (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and the candidate cannot be made aware by the chapter that they have received the affirmation. The candidate who receives a affirmation does not have the right to use the San Diego Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America’s name on their promotional material nor do they have the right to advertise the affirmation endorsement if they are made aware of it.
1 What is meant by material assistance are resources which the steering committee and/or other working groups, sub-committees, branches, and/or caucuses would have to spend money on and/or go out of their way to obtain. Things readily available and already existing in the chapter e.g. tables for tabling, banners, etc. should be made available to the electoral working group.
Section 3. Advocacy
Advocacy will be considered the strong form of chapter endorsement and can only be sought directly by a candidate explicitly seeking an endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America.
Candidates seeking elected office for the Presidency of the United States can be considered for an advocacy endorsement by the San Diego Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America if and only if they have granted an endorsement from the national organization of the Democratic Socialists of America. If this endorsement has been granted by the national organization, then an electoral working group (or in its absence the steering committee) may formulate a resolution for advocacy to be voted on at the next general meeting. The electoral working group (or the Steering Committee in its absence) shall publish the list of proposed candidates for advocacy 15 days prior to the General Assembly meeting in which the endorsement will be decided. Any candidate that has been endorsed by the national body will automatically be considered for advocacy if the electoral working group (or steering committee in its absence) chooses to seek endorsement for the candidate-in-question.
Candidates running for office in the California state races e.g. the Governorship, State Attorney, State Treasurer, etc. and candidates seeking election in the U.S. Senate to represent the State of California may be considered for advocacy by an electoral working group (or in its absence the steering committee) by formulating a resolution to present to the General Assembly. This may be done independent of the national body.
Candidates seeking elected office in any local governments of San Diego County, the State Assembly, and/or candidates seeking election in the US House of Representatives must seek an endorsement from the San Diego Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America in order to be considered for advocacy. The electoral working group (or steering committee in its absence) will send the candidate-in-question interested in endorsement a questionnaire to be filled by the candidate and sent back to the electoral working group. Based on the responses from the candidate-in-question, the electoral working group (or steering committee it its absence) may choose to invite the candidate to speak before the General Assembly and present their case for endorsement to the membership. The answers to the questionnaire shall be made public to membership and the candidate must appear before the General Assembly and present their case for endorsement to the membership in order to be considered for advocacy. If a candidate-in-question fulfills the aforementioned requirements, their resolution for endorsement will automatically be considered a vote for advocacy.
Advocacy for a candidate must be passed by a three fifths majority—or 60%—of those voting in a General Assembly meeting and/or via online voting. If an advocacy vote fails, then the electoral working group (or the steering committee in its absence) may seek a affirmation vote for the candidate-in-question.
A successful vote of advocacy means that the chapter formally endorses the candidate-in-question bestows all of the rights to the electoral working group (or the steering committee in its absence) as a successful affirmation vote. In addition, a successful vote of advocacy allows the electoral working group (or the steering committee in its absence) to request material assistance and support from the chapter. A successful vote of advocacy also means that the chapter and other working groups belonging to the chapter may use any and all the resources at their disposal in conjunction with the electoral working group (or steering committee in its absence) with the goal of helping to elect the candidate-in-question. The successful vote also means that the candidate-in-question has established formal ties with the San Diego Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and may advertise their endorsement from the chapter in their campaign material.
Upon a successful advocacy vote, if no campaign strategy has been attached to the endorsement resolution then the electoral working group (or the steering committee in its absence) has the authority to pursue the campaign strategy it deems fit for working with the candidate-in-question.
Section 4. National Endorsements
The electoral working group may participate in limited campaigns (e.g. phone banking, developing materials, etc) for candidates and/or issues endorsed by National DSA and/or at the request of another local DSA chapter in races falling outside of San Diego DSA’s jurisdiction.
For these limited campaigns the electoral working group may not use any materials from the chapter and is not permitted to brand themselves as San Diego DSA if the candidate and/or issue has not been endorsed by San Diego DSA; they must use the branding of the national body and/or the chapter that made the request.
The electoral working group may only participate in limited campaigns without the chapter’s endorsement for candidates and/or issues falling outside of the chapter’s jurisdiction. The electoral working group must seek an endorsement to work on campaigns using the chapter’s materials and branding in races under the chapter’s jurisdiction: candidates running in city and county elections in San Diego County; candidates running for State Assembly, State Senate and/or Congress representing a district within San Diego County; state elections e.g. Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Attorney, US Senate representing the State of California, etc; and candidates running for national office e.g. the Presidency.
Section 5. Voter Guide
The electoral working group has the ability to form a voter’s guide independent of chapter endorsements. A candidate who has received either form of endorsement allow the electoral working group to put the candidate-in-question on the voter guide without debate. Both the affirmation and advocacy form of endorsement allows the electoral working group to indicate in the voter guide that the candidate-in-question has received a chapter endorsement without distinction.
Any procedures not mentioned in this document about the voter guide is under the authority of the electoral working group to develop.
Section 6. Revoking Endorsements
If the chapter deems it necessary, for any reason, it may choose to revoke any type of endorsement — affirmation or advocacy — by a two-thirds majority at a General Assembly meeting with online voting included or by emergency election called by the steering committee with no less than 50% of the membership participating in the vote. Revoking an endorsement rescinds all rights granted by an endorsement to the electoral working group (or steering committee in its absence), chapter, and candidate-in-question.
Article IX. Amendments.
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of the Local Chapter, and submitted to the Steering Committee a month in advance of a Quarterly Assembly. The Steering Committee shall take at most one week to process the amendment and must then provide the Local Chapter membership written or electronic notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a 60% supermajority vote at a Quarterly Assembly, but not less than 50% of the total members in attendance.
Proposed Amendments to bylaws must be published at least 30 days prior to the GA Meeting in which the Amendment will be decided.