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Bylaws

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Article I. Name.
Article II. Purpose.
Article III. Membership.
Article IV. Local Meetings.
Article V. Officers.
Article VI. Steering Committee.
Article VII. Branches.
Article VIII. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies.
Article IX. Prohibited Activity.
Article X. Nominations, Elections, and Recalls.
Article XI. Grievances.
Article XII. Amendments.
Article XIII. Rules of the Local.

 


Article I. Name.

§ 1. Name.

The name of the Local shall be the Richmond Democratic Socialists of America, a not-for-profit corporation.

Article II. Purpose.

§ 1. Purpose.

The Richmond 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 and sex, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.

DSA envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, 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.

Article III. Membership.

§ 1. Membership.

Members of the Richmond DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in the Richmond area and are not currently a member of another chapter. 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.

§ 2. Removal of Members.

If a full member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of national DSA, or if they are found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic, disruptive behavior, or if they are found to be under the discipline of any self-defined democratic centralist organization, the Local may vote to expel them from DSA. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally prefer written charges against the member in question to the Local Steering Committee, which shall set the date of a Local meeting for deliberations on the charges. The member in question must receive a copy of the written charges and notice of the meeting a minimum of two weeks before that meeting takes place. Expulsion of a member or affiliate member requires a two-thirds vote of the Local meeting. An expelled full member may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.

§ 3. Dues.

The Local chapter may establish a Local pledge system of voluntary donations for its members.

Article IV. Local Meetings.

§ 1. Local Convention.

The Local will hold a minimum of one Local Convention annually, and all members of the Local will receive three weeks written (or electronic) notice and an agenda of the Local Convention. The Local Convention will elect Local officers and other members of the Steering Committee and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Local.

§ 2. General Meetings.

The Local will hold General Meetings at least four times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Local Steering Committee. The General Meetings will set Local policy and work priorities, and will include political education sessions.

The Local Steering Committee will set the agenda for General Meetings, and notify all members of the Local by written (or electronic) notice at least one week before the Meeting. In general, the General Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local.

§ 3. Emergency Meetings.

The Local Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local on five days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.

§ 4. Quorum.

A quorum of 80% of the average attendance of the last three General Meetings, rounding up (but not fewer than five more than the number of votes on the Steering Committee), is required for the Local Conventions and General or Special Meetings to transact business.

§ 5. Conduction of Voting.

(a) The Local may conduct votes in-person (via physical ballots or voice vote pursuant to Art. XIII, § 1.) or by electronic means (via digital ballots pursuant to Art. XIII, § 1.).

(b) All votes taken by the Local are understood to be in-person unless expressed before a meeting of the Local is called-to-order pursuant to Art. XIII, § 1. A vote conducted by electronic means may still be conducted if (i) at least 72 hours is provided for members to cast their vote and (ii) the Steering Committee makes a good-faith effort to make all members of the Local aware of the vote.

(c) In order to be valid, votes conducted by electronic means must have more total votes cast than the quorum number of the previous general meeting of the Local.

Article V. Officers.

§ 1. Officers and Terms.

The officers of the Local will be two Co-chairs, two Organizational Secretaries, two Communications Secretaries, two Treasurers, and two Membership Secretaries. The term of office shall last the period of one quarterly election, or until their successors are elected. The members of the Steering Committee shall elect officers from amongst themselves.

§ 2. Vacancies and Leaves of Absence.

In the event of a vacancy in any Local office, the Local Steering Committee will appoint a replacement until the next General Meeting, which will elect a replacement to complete the term of office.

Elected officers of the Local may request a temporary leave of absence of up to sixty (60) days, not to exceed sixty (60) days cumulatively. The officer taking leave shall notify the Steering Committee in writing about the reasons for the leave of absences and the estimated length of the absence. The Steering Committee shall vote to accept the leave of absence, with a simple majority necessary to pass. If an officer is granted personal leave, the Steering Committee may appoint an interim officer.

§ 3. Co-chairs.

Two chairs, who shall serve as co-chairs, who chair meetings of the Steering Committee and the Local, carry out the administrative duties of the Steering Committee.

§ 4. Organizational Secretaries.

Two Organizational Secretaries shall also be responsible for the taking of minutes of all Local and Steering Committee Meetings and shall have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports, and other official records of the Local. They shall transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists.

§ 5. Communications Secretaries.

Two Communications Secretaries, who shall (i) carry out the duties of answering correspondence, (ii) maintain social media accounts of the Chapter and delegate tasks related to social media communications, (iii) provide responses and delegate tasks related to written communications, and (iii) provide formal response to any external queries from non-members. They shall ensure effective communication with the National organization of the Democratic Socialists of America. The Communications Secretary shall temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Chair if neither Co-chair nor Organizational Secretary is able to chair the Steering Committee.

§ 6. Treasurers.

Two Treasurers who shall be responsible for the maintenance of funds and financial records of the Local. All funds collected by the Local will be turned over to the Treasurer, who shall deposit them in a bank account under the name of the Local. 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 budget, and deliver the Local financial report to the Local Convention of the Local, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee of the Local.

§ 7. Membership Secretaries.

Two Membership Secretaries who shall be responsible for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local and for implementing programs to connect with the members of the local as a whole and to encourage their engagement in the Local’s projects. The Membership Secretaries shall prepare an annual Local Membership Report to be delivered at the Local Conventions, as well as prepare periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee.

§ 8. Elections.

Elections shall be held quarterly, four times in a year, in the first meeting following an election of new members to the Steering Committee by the Local; such elections to replace officer positions in the Steering Committee shall occur in January, April, July, and October.

Article VI. Steering Committee.

§ 1. Composition.

(a) The Steering Committee shall consist of ten members who shall be elected biannually by the members of the Local, hereinafter referred to as “regular seats” and of members representing any branch pursuant to Art. VIII, §§ 1-2.

(b) Members of the Steering Committee shall be elected semiannually for terms of six calendar months.

(c) Half of the ten regular seats of the Steering Committee shall be filled by election in the months of March and September and the other half of the ten regular seats of the Steering Committee shall be filled by election in the months of June and December.

(d) Elections of members of the Steering Committee shall occur in the final weeks of March, June, September, and December.

(e) The terms of members elected in March shall conclude in September, the terms of members elected in June shall conclude in December, the terms of members elected in September shall conclude in March, and the terms of the members elected in December shall conclude in June.

§ 2. Eligibility.

Any member in good standing with the Democratic Socialists of America and the Local, including members of a branch of the Local, who has no outstanding grievances under review against them, and who has not been suspended or expelled from the Local within a year of the date of the election for the office, may be elected to the Steering Committee.

§ 3. Duties.

(a) The Steering Committee administers the affairs of the Local and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the Local Convention and General Meetings; it may also propose policy to the Local Convention and General Meetings. It shall have the power to receive reports of any Committee or Branch, and advise thereon, to call emergency meetings of the Local, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Steering Committee is the regular steering body of the Local, and thus subordinate to its legislative bodies, the Local Convention and General Meetings.

(b) The Local Steering Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Local chapter, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by full members of DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Local meetings.

§ 4. Meetings.

(a) Any meeting of the Steering Committee shall (i) be held at the call of the Chair Co-chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Steering Committee meeting or (ii) by consultation with any three members of the Steering Committee.

(b) All members of the Steering Committee must (ordinarily) be given four days oral or written notice of regular Steering Committee meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.

§ 5. Quorum.

A quorum of one-half of the sitting members of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.

§ 6. Press and Communications.

(a) The assurance that all forms of communications released on behalf of the Chapter are appropriate shall be the purview of the Steering Committee.

(b)The Steering Committee shall have the power to (i) prepare any external communications or correspondence on behalf of the Chapter, (ii) delegate the preparation of correspondence and communications to any willing members of the Chapter, and (iii) approve any external communications or correspondence on behalf of the General.

(c) The Communications Secretaries shall be responsible for reviewing all communiques and ensuring they are responded to in a manner reflective of the Chapter’s purpose pursuant to Art. I, § 1.

Article VII. Branches.

§ 1. Definition.

(a) A branch is a subgroup of the Local defined by geography.

(b) Each branch shall have one seat on the Steering Committee in addition to the ten regular members of Steering which shall (i) have the power to cast votes in Steering Committee meetings and (ii) whose attendance shall not count against quorum on the Local Steering Committee.

§ 2. Youth Sections.

(a) Branches established on college campuses and consisting of students will be called Local Youth Sections.

(b) Youth Sections must have at least five full members in good standing with the national Young Democratic Socialists of America.

(c) Each Youth Section shall have one seat on the Steering Committee in addition to the ten regular members of Steering which shall (i) have the power to cast votes in Steering Committee meetings and (ii) whose attendance shall not count against quorum on the Local Steering Committee.

Article VIII. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies.

Local delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by full members of the Local Chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization. Delegates and alternates to the National Convention shall be elected pursuant to Article V, section 1, subsection (b).

Article IX. Prohibited Activity.

§ 1. Prohibited Activity.

Richmond Local shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501(c)4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of Virginia. Nor shall the local engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.

Article X. Nominations, Elections, and Recalls.

§ 1. Nominations Committee.

A three-person Committee shall be at each General Meeting at which an election shall occur and remain until the next quarterly election. The Nominating Committee shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected, ensure that nominees accept nomination, and develop a voter guide and ballots for each election. The Nominating Committee shall be responsible for soliciting diverse candidates.

§ 2. Nominations Process.

Nominations for officers shall be opened at least ten (10) days before an election. The call for nominations shall be announced to all members in good standing as soon as nominations are open.

§ 3. Elections.

(a) Elections shall be presided over by the Nominating Committee and conducted by secret ballot.

(b) Ballot type for elections shall be determined by the membership of a Local before a vote is conducted. The vote to determine the type of balloting used in the subsequent vote shall require a majority vote of the members present.

§ 4. Recall Procedure.

(a) Members may (i) petition for the recall of an officer by collecting signatures of ten percent (either physical or digital) of the total general membership and (ii) having a majority of those present at a meeting vote in favor of removal. The general membership shall be given at least two weeks’ notice of any upcoming removal vote. Replacement of the recalled officer shall be treated in the same manner as a vacancy. A recalled officer may not run for election again until two elections have passed.

(b) The Steering Committee may put the recall of an officer to the general membership if such officer has failed to attend two-thirds of meetings of the Steering Committee, or three-fourths of General Meetings, during the course of the previous quarter of the year.

Article XI. Grievances.

§ 1. Grievance Procedure.

The Local shall adopt harassment and grievance procedures pursuant to those adopted by national DSA.

§ 2. Grievance Officers.

At least two grievance officers shall be elected every year and settle disputes, grievances, and instances of harassment among members of the Local. Grievance officers shall satisfy the requirements for a harassment grievances officer (HGOs) adopted by national DSA.

§ 3. Code of Conduct.

The Meetings of the Local may adopt a Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct shall include as prohibited any behavior prohibited under the harassment and grievance policy adopted by national DSA.

Article XII. Amendments.

§ 1. Amendments.

(a) Proposed amendments to these Bylaws shall be made by (i) written resolution, (ii) endorsed by five members of the Local chapter of DSA, and (iii) submitted to the Steering Committee a thirty (30) days in advance of a Local Convention or General Meeting.

(b) The Steering Committee is required to provide the Local membership with two weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendments.

(c) The amendment must be approved by a two-thirds vote of a Local Convention or General Meeting.

Article XIII. Rules of the Local.

§ 1. Rules.

(a) Rusty’s Rules of Order shall govern the Local in cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws. These rules may be supplemented by reference to Robert’s Rules of Order and the AORTA facilitation guidelines where Rusty’s Rules of Order does not address.

(b) Any action taken by an officer or member of DSA Richmond in contravention of these bylaws shall be null and void.