Bylaws of the St. Louis Local of the Democratic Socialists of America
ARTICLE I. Name
- The name of the Local shall be the St. Louis Local of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a not-for-profit corporation.
- Unless otherwise specified, “the Local” means the St. Louis Local of the Democratic Socialists of America.
ARTICLE II. Purpose
- The St. Louis Local of the DSA 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 actual or perceived race, sex, gender identity and gender expression, 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, gender and sexual minority groups, social justice 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 and the rights of those who do not espouse any spiritual affiliation or identity.
- 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
- Members of the St. Louis Local of DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full and who reside and/or work in the city of St. Louis; the Missouri counties of St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Lincoln County, Warren County or Franklin County; or the Illinois counties of Monroe County, Madison County, St. Clair County, Jersey County and Calhoun County.. The St. Louis Local may also incorporate individual dues-paying members of DSA who reside and/or work in other nearby areas if they are not currently covered by another DSA Local.
- Members in good standing are afforded the full rights of voice and vote at all St. Louis Local meetings.
- It will be the responsibility of Members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the local, 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.
- There will be a community fund established by membership which will pay for memberships of those individuals who may be unable to join at the designated membership levels provided by the National Chapter.
- Those wishing to use the community fund shall become full members after attending at least two local regular meetings.
ARTICLE IV. Local Meetings
- General Meetings
- The Local shall hold a minimum of one General Meeting annually, and all Members of the Local shall be notified via written or electronic mail at least two weeks prior to the General Meeting. For the purpose of notification of General Meetings, the Local shall keep and maintain a list of Members. A notice of elections shall be included in the notice for a General Meeting. It shall also include the names of people who are running for elected positions.
- The Corresponding Secretary shall post public notice of the General Meeting reasonably in advance.
- Officers shall only be elected at a General Meeting.
- A General Meeting may adopt an annual budget.
- The General Meeting is the highest legislative body of the Local.
- Regular Meetings
- The Local shall hold Regular Meetings at least once monthly, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Corresponding Secretary. The Regular Meetings will set Local policy and work priorities, and will include political education sessions.
- The Executive Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local.
- The Corresponding Secretary shall notify Members and will post public notice of the Regular Meeting reasonably in advance.
- Emergency Meetings
- The Executive Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local on five days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
- A quorum of at least twenty members (or twenty percent of the total membership of the Local, whichever is less) is required for General, Regular, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
ARTICLE V. Officers
- Officers shall consist of two Co-Chairs, a Corresponding Secretary, a Recording Secretary, a Treasurer, and two Comrades-at-Large.
- The Co-Chairs will be the chief executive officers of the Local. They will preside over Local and Executive Committee meetings or will appoint a substitute to assume the powers and duties of the presiding Local Officer as specified in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. The Co-Chairs will be the official public spokespersons for the Local and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local’s general welfare may demand. In the event that one of the Co-Chairs is unable to perform their duties for a single event or a longer period of time, the other Co-Chair will serve as replacement.
- The Co-Chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Local Branches and Committees.
- The Co-Chairs will report to Local Regular Meetings on the business of the Executive Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.
- The Co-Chairs shall not be of the same identified gender.
- Corresponding Secretary
- The Corresponding Secretary shall be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries for the Local and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local.
- The Corresponding Secretary will ensure effective communication with the national DSA.
- The Corresponding Secretary will temporarily assume the responsibilities of one of the Co-Chairs, if that Co-Chair is not able to perform them.
- The Corresponding Secretary shall transfer official records in good condition to the successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and membership lists.
- Recording Secretary
- The Recording Secretary shall be responsible for the taking of minutes of all General, Regular, Emergency, and Executive Committee Meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports, and other official records of the Local. The Recording Secretary shall distribute the minutes from the meetings to the Members of the Local in a timely fashion.
- The Recording Secretary shall transfer official records in good condition to the successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and membership lists.
- The Treasurer shall be responsible for the 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.
- The Treasurer will prepare the annual Local budget, and deliver the Local financial report to the General Meeting, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Executive Committee.
- Comrades at Large
- There shall be two Comrades-at-Large. The Comrades-at-Large shall not be of the same identified gender.
- The primary role of the Comrades-at-Large shall be to facilitate mediation between members of the chapter that have conflict. Both individuals shall act as and have the responsibilities of the chapter’s Harassment Grievance Officers (HGO) as defined by national harassment policy.
- Neither Comrade at Large shall be a voting member of the Executive Committee. Instead, they shall voice the concerns of the chapter as a whole and act as grounding for the Executive Committee.
- Additional Duties
- The Executive Committee may assign additional temporary duties to a Local Officer, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.
ARTICLE VI. Executive Committee
- The Executive Committee shall be composed of the Officers, the Parliamentarian, the chair(s) of the Local Youth Sections, and the Chair(s) of any Local Branches.
- The Executive Committee administers the affairs of the Local and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the General and Regular Meetings. It may also propose policy to the General and Regular 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 Executive Committee is the regular executive body of the Local, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the General and Regular Meetings.
- The Executive Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Local, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by Members, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Local meetings.
- The Executive Committee shall have the power to endorse, publish, and/or co-sign actions, statements, or other activities with external groups where those activities have secured two-thirds support of the Executive Committee AND support of the Committee tasked with evaluation of the relevant subject or action as indicated by a majority vote of the Committee. The Executive Committee by majority vote shall have the power to determine which committee(s) are relevant to the endorsement, co-sign actions, statements, or other activities.
- The Parliamentarian shall be appointed by the executive committee, and shall serve the same term as an Officer, but shall not be a voting member of the Executive Committee. During any meeting of the Executive Committee in which an interpretation of the Bylaws or rules of order that govern the meeting is under dispute for any reason, an Officer or at least two non-Officer members may request that the Parliamentarian provide an advisory statement interpreting the Bylaws or the rules of order that govern the meeting. If the Parliamentarian is not present at the meeting, this request shall be forwarded to them at the first possible opportunity. This advisory statement shall not be binding on the Executive Committee, and shall not create any precedent for future interpretations. The Parliamentarian shall also be permitted (but is not required) to provide advisory statements on any matter related to the Bylaws or rules of order not involving the Executive Committee upon the request of any member.
- The Executive Committee shall meet at least once monthly.
- The meetings of the Executive Committee will be held at the call of the Co-Chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Executive Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three members of the Executive Committee. All members of the Executive Committee must (ordinarily) be given four days’ oral or written notice of regular Executive Committee Meetings. A 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
- A quorum of three voting members of the Executive Committee is required for the transaction of Executive Committee business.
ARTICLE VII. Local Branches
- A Local Branch is a subgroup of the Local consisting of at least five Members. Branches may be defined by geography, work site, constituency (e.g., labor, minority, feminist), or area of political work (e.g., peace action, environmental movement). The chairs of the Branches will hold membership on the Executive Committee.
- Youth Sections
- Branches established on college campuses and consisting of students, at least in part, will be called Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least five Members. The Chairs of Local Youth Sections will hold membership on the Executive Committee.
- 3. Formation
- Local Branches may be formed by petition of at least five Members to the Executive Committee.
- Upon such petition, and after due consideration, the Executive Committee shall ratify or reject such Local Branch.
- The Executive Committee shall publish a reason for each such ratification or rejection.
- Each branch may elect at maximum two chair persons to coordinate the actions of the Local Branch.
ARTICLE VIII. Committees
- A Committee of the Local (“Committee”) is a body of one or more Members organized to consider, investigate, or take action in regard to, certain matters or subjects.
- Each Committee shall be formed by vote of the Local.
- Each Committee shall have a purpose.
- Each Committee shall have a Chair.
- Each Committee shall keep minutes of its meetings.
- Chairs of Committees shall keep the Executive Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local informed on the activities of the Committee.
- Committees may recommend actions, statements, or other organizing activities on behalf of the Local.
ARTICLE IX. Elections
- Terms and Qualifications
- The term of office for an Officer shall be one year, and shall run from January 1 to December 31 or until their successor is elected. No more than 50% of the executive board members rounded up to the nearest whole person can identify as men. This shall only apply to a general election.
- The 2017 Term will run from June 30 to December 31.
- Any person holding any Office must be a Member in good standing.
- Nominations will be fielded by the chair at two Regular meetings prior to the General Meeting. Nominations may also be given in writing to any Executive Committee member.
- Nominations shall close four weeks prior to the General Meeting. The Corresponding Secretary will compile and distribute the full list of nominations at least two weeks prior to the General Meeting.
- If any nominations remain open, they may be filled at the General Meeting.
- Elections will occur in the order in which the positions appear in the bylaws. Each nominee will present a speech two minutes in duration and will answer questions fielded by Members in a two-minute session. Nominees shall leave the room during debate on the positions for which they are nominated.
- Voting will be by secret ballot. A simple majority will be be required to be elected to a position. In the event that no nominee receives a majority of votes cast, voting will be repeated with the nominee with the fewest votes eliminated.
- In the event of a vacancy in any office, the Executive Committee will appoint a replacement until the next election. A special election shall take place at the next General Meeting.
ARTICLE X. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies
- Local delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by Members of the Local. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
- Nominations Process
- Nominations for delegates to the National Convention shall be opened five months prior to the National Convention and close after one month. At the General or Regular meeting following the closing of nominations, nominees shall be elected using the procedure outlined in Article IX section 3.
ARTICLE XI. Prohibited Activity
- The Local shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501(c)(4) organizations or similar rules established by the states of Missouri or Illinois.
- The Local shall not engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
- To the greatest extent possible, gendered terminology should not be used in any official communication from the Local in situations where the gender identity/expression of arbitrary (i.e., non-specific) individual(s) or group(s) involved is not relevant. This section shall not apply to any situation in which all potential individuals or groups involved have indicated a preference for specific gendered terminology, in which case that terminology should be used.
ARTICLE XII. Disciplinary Actions
- Disciplinary procedures shall follow those outlined in Chapter XX, Disciplinary Procedures in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition.
- The Member shall receive a written document condemning their behavior.
- A record of the Member’s censure shall be kept for the Member’s remaining time in the Local.
- This provision shall only apply to Members elected to Local Office.
- Upon confirmation, the Officer is immediately removed from the Local Office.
- Upon confirmation, a Member shall lose voice and vote, and be considered in bad standing for a period of time recommended by the trial board.
- Upon confirmation, a Member shall lose voice and vote, may not attend any official local events, and be considered in bad standing for a period of time recommended by the trial board.
- This level of disciplinary procedure may only be used if the member in question has broken any part of the Code of Conduct established by the Local.
- Upon confirmation, a Member shall lose voice and vote, and shall be permanently prohibited from attending any official local events.
- This level of disciplinary procedure may only be used if the member in question has broken any part of the Code of Conduct established by the Local.
ARTICLE XIII. Amendments to Bylaws
- Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five Members, and submitted to the Executive Committee two weeks prior to a General or Regular Meeting. The Executive Committee is required to provide the Local membership with two weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendment. The amendment shall be proposed at the General or Regular Meeting and voted upon at the following General Meeting. The amendment shall pass if it reaches a 2⁄3 majority of the membership present and in good standing.
ARTICLE XIV. Rules of the Local
- The rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, shall govern this Local in cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these Bylaws. Consensus decision-making is desirable where feasible, but meetings must submit to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised upon the request of a Member.
- Bylaws as Ultimate Authority on Procedure
- To the greatest extent possible, the Bylaws of the Local are to be considered the ultimate authority on any issue of procedure that arises within the Local.
ARTICLE XV. Ratification
- These Bylaws shall be ratified by a 2⁄3 majority of the membership present at an organizing meeting.