Saint Louis DSA

Bylaws of the St. Louis Local of the Democratic Socialists of America

ARTICLE I. Name

  1. The name of the Local shall be the St. Louis Local of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a not-for-profit corporation.
  2. Unless otherwise specified, “the Local” means the St. Louis Local of the Democratic Socialists of America.

ARTICLE II. Purpose

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 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.
  2. Members in good standing are afforded the full rights of voice and vote at all St. Louis Local meetings.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
    1. Those wishing to use the community fund shall become full members after attending at least two local regular meetings.

ARTICLE IV. Local Meetings

  1. General Meetings
    1. The Local shall hold a General Meeting annually each September, and all Members of the Local shall be notified via written or electronic mail at least four 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.
    2. The Executive Committee shall post public notice of the General Meeting reasonably in advance.
    3. Officers shall be elected at a General Meeting.
    4. The outgoing Executive Committee shall present a report on the status of the Local’s finances.
    5. The General Meeting is the highest legislative body of the Local.
    6. A General Meeting may adopt a priorities resolution to guide the organization’s work in the coming year.
  2. Regular Meetings
    1. 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.
    2. The Executive Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local.
    3. The Corresponding Secretary shall notify Members and will post public notice of the Regular Meeting reasonably in advance.
  3. Special Meetings
    1. The Executive Committee may call a Special Meeting of the Local on five days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
    2. A quorum (as defined in Article IV, Section 4) of members may also call for a Special Meeting to deliberate important matters, or call for an action to be taken (without a meeting) after approval by electronic vote, provided that number of ballots cast exceeds the quorum.
    3. Business transacting at a Special Meeting may only relate to the matter at hand.
  4. Quorum
    1. 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 Special Meetings to transact business.

ARTICLE V. Officers

  1. Definition
    1. Voting Officers shall consist of two Co-Chairs, a Corresponding Secretary, a Recording Secretary, and a Treasurer.
      1. The Officers on the Executive Committee shall assign these roles amongst themselves, and may vote to change that assignment as necessary.
      2. The Executive Committee should meet and vote to confirm these roles within 72 hours of their election.
    2. Non-voting Officers shall consist of the Comrades-at-Large, as defined in Article V, Section 6; the Parliamentarian, as defined in Article VI, Section 2, Part e; and any Local Officers as defined in Article V, Section 7.
    3. The provisions in Section 1 shall not apply until January 1, 2019.
  2. Chairs
    1. 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.
    2. The Co-Chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Local Branches and Committees.
    3. 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.
  3. Corresponding Secretary
    1. 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.
    2. The Corresponding Secretary will ensure effective communication with the national DSA.
    3. The Corresponding Secretary will temporarily assume the responsibilities of one of the Co-Chairs, if that Co-Chair is not able to perform them.
    4. The Corresponding Secretary shall transfer official records in good condition to the successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and membership lists.
  4. Recording Secretary
    1. The Recording Secretary shall be responsible for the taking of minutes of all General, Regular, Special, 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.
    2. The Recording Secretary shall transfer official records in good condition to the successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and membership lists.
  5. Treasurer
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  6. Comrades-at-Large
    1. There shall be two Comrades-at-Large. The Comrades-at-Large shall not be of the same identified gender.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
  7. Additional Duties
    1. 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

  1. Composition
    1. 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.
  2. Duties
    1. 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 Special Meetings of the Local, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action.
    2. The Executive Committee is the regular executive body of the Local, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the General and Regular Meetings.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
  3. Meetings
    1. The Executive Committee shall meet at least once monthly.
    2. 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.
  4. Quorum
    1. A quorum of three voting members of the Executive Committee is required for the transaction of Executive Committee business.

ARTICLE VII. Local Branches

  1. Definition
    1. 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.
  2. Youth Sections
    1. 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
    1. Local Branches may be formed by petition of at least five Members to the Executive Committee.
    2. Upon such petition, and after due consideration, the Executive Committee shall ratify or reject such Local Branch.
      1. The Executive Committee shall publish a reason for each such ratification or rejection.
    3. Each branch may elect at maximum two chair persons to coordinate the actions of the Local Branch.

ARTICLE VIII. Committees, Working Groups, and Caucuses

  1. Definition
    1. The number, duties, and functions of Committees, Working Groups, and Caucuses, if any, (hereinafter “Local Formation”) shall be as determined by the members in accordance with these bylaws.
    2. Committees may be established for the purpose of organizing around and/or performing specific functions for the Local.
    3. Working Groups may be established for the purpose of organizing action around political themes or projects that fall under the purview of the DSA and/or St. Louis DSA’s political platform.
    4. Caucuses may be established as independent formations of members within the Local established on the basis of shared interests, identities, affinities, and/or political goals.
  2. Formation
    1. Each Local Formation shall be formed by vote of the Local, upon petition of at minimum 5 dues-paying members in good standing.
    2. Each Local Formation shall have a purpose, as outlined in its Charter, which shall include:
      1. Proposed name of Local Formation
      2. Mission statement and objectives
      3. List of membership requirements, including if the Local Formation will have open or closed membership.
      4. Procedure for selecting Chair(s) of the Local Formation.
    3. Each Local Formation shall have, at minimum, one Chair, to serve a term of no longer than one year, but subject to re-election.
    4. Each Local Formation shall keep minutes and attendance of its meetings and submit these to the Executive Committee, who shall make them available to the entire Local.
  3. Duties
    1. Chairs of Local Formations shall keep the Executive Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local informed on the activities of the Local Formation.
    2. Local Formations may recommend actions, statements, or other organizing activities for consideration by the Local, based on a majority vote of the membership, as defined under the Charter (not counting abstentions).
    3. Local Formations may endorse actions, statements, or other organizing activities on their own behalf, based on a majority vote of the membership of the Local Formation, as defined under the Charter (not counting abstentions).
  4. Dissolution
    1. Any Committee or Working Group may be dissolved by a majority of its members (if applicable), by being inactive for more than one year, or at a Regular, Special, or General Meeting of the Local by a vote of two-thirds of the members present.
    2. Any Caucus may be dissolved by a majority of its members or by being inactive for more than one year.

ARTICLE IX. Elections

  1. Terms and Qualifications
    1. The term of office for an Officer shall be one year, and shall run from October 1 to September 30 of the next year, or until their successor is elected.
    2. The 2019 Term will run from January 1 to September 30.
    3. Any person holding any Office must be a Member in good standing.
  2. Nominations
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. If any nominations remain open, they may be filled at the General Meeting.
  3. Procedure
    1. Five voting Officers shall be elected using a ranked-choice voting system.
    2. Voting will be by secret ballot. A democratic process for deciding on and implementing the specific type of ranked-choice voting system shall be approved by the majority of the membership no less than three months before the General Meeting election.
    3. Each nominee will present a speech and will answer questions posed by Members.
    4. After votes are cast, candidates shall be ranked according to the ranked-choice voting method used, and fill vacant slots in descending order (i.e., the person ranked highest shall fill slot 1; ranked second-highest, slot 2; etc.), subject to any other parameters or restrictions of the bylaws. Seats left vacant will remain vacant, but may be filled using the normal process for vacancies.
    5. Comrades-at-Large shall be elected via similar procedure as described in Parts a-d.
    6. The provisions in Section 3 shall not apply until January 1, 2019.
  4. Vacancies
    1. In the event of a vacancy in any office, the Executive Committee may appoint a replacement until the next Regular Meeting, at which the general body may vote to approve their appointment. If the seat remains vacant, the general body may move to hold a Special Election at the following Regular Meeting to fill the seat for the remainder of the term.
    2. A Special Election will follow the same procedure as normal elections, but only the positions indicated shall be up for reelection, and nominations shall be accepted up until one week before the Special Election.

ARTICLE X. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies

  1. Convention
    1. 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.
    2. Nominations Process
      1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. The Local shall not engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
  3. 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

  1. Disciplinary procedures shall, by default, follow those outlined in National Resolution #33, “Harassment Policy”, with the following clarifications and additions:
    1. The “Steering Committee” for the Local is defined as the Executive Committee.
    2. “Prohibited behavior” includes harassment as defined by Resolution #33, Section 1 as well as behavior proscribed by the Code of Conduct established by the Local.
    3. In the event that a report is found credible the Comrades-at-Large shall, in making a disciplinary recommendation to the Executive Committee pursuant to Subsection 2(c)(ii), give due consideration to the request of any victim(s) of the prohibited behavior.
    4. The penalties of Suspension and Expulsion as described hereinafter may only be imposed under this section for conduct occurring outside of a meeting if, after the Executive Committee recounts the substantiated allegations to the membership of the Local and makes a recommendation of Suspension or Expulsion, a majority of the membership present vote to confirm the punishment in question.
      1. This confirmation process shall occur at the next Regular or General Meeting following the conclusion of any appeal.
      2. The Executive Committee may impose an interim suspension prior to a confirmation vote by the membership of the Local, which shall last until the confirmation vote is tallied.
  2. Other Disciplinary Actions
    1. The following behaviors, to the extent they do not fall under prohibited behaviors specified by Resolution #33 or the Code of Conduct established by the Local, shall not be addressed through the process outlined in Resolution #33, but rather shall follow those outlined in Chapter XX, Disciplinary Procedures in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition:
      1. Breaches of order in a meeting.
      2. Any conduct, whether within or outside of a meeting, disturb its well-being, or hamper it in its work.
    2. The penalties of Suspension and Expulsion as described hereinafter may only be imposed under this section for conduct occurring outside of a meeting if, after the Trial Committee recounts the substantiated allegations to the membership of the Local and makes a recommendation of Suspension or Expulsion, a majority of the membership present vote to confirm the punishment in question.
      1. This confirmation process shall occur at the next Regular or General Meeting following the conclusion of any appeal.
      2. The Executive Committee may impose an interim suspension prior to a confirmation vote by the membership of the Local, which shall last until the confirmation vote is tallied.
  3. Penalties
    1. Censure
      1. The Member shall receive a written document condemning their behavior.
      2. A record of the Member’s censure shall be kept for the Member’s remaining time in the Local.
    2. Probation
      1. Upon confirmation, a Member shall lose voice and vote, and be considered in bad standing for a period of time recommended by the Executive Committee.
    3. Suspension
      1. Upon confirmation, a Member shall lose voice and vote, may not attend any official local events, and shall be considered in bad standing for a period of time recommended by the Executive Committee.
    4. Expulsion
      1. Upon confirmation, a Member shall lose voice and vote, and shall be permanently prohibited from attending any official local events.
      2. Upon confirmation, the Executive Committee shall, upon vote of the membership, report the expulsion of the member to National and ask for expulsion from the national organization.
  4. Removal from Office
    1. Removal of any regularly elected Officer shall follow those procedures outlined in Chapter XX, Disciplinary Procedures in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition, with the following clarifications and additions:
      1. The removal of an Officer by adoption of a motion to do so shall require a two-thirds vote by participating membership of the Local, discounting abstentions.
      2. The Executive Committee shall provide advance notice of the vote on the motion to the entire membership of the Local.
      3. The membership of the Local shall be allotted a minimum of 48 hours to cast ballots electronically.

ARTICLE XIII. Amendments to Bylaws

  1. 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, set into motion and debated at the following General or Regular Meeting, and the voting membership shall be allowed a minimum of 48 hours to cast ballots by electronic vote. The amendment shall pass if it reaches a 2⁄3 majority of ballots cast, allowing for abstentions.

ARTICLE XIV. Rules of the Local

  1. Rules
    1. 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.
  2. Bylaws as Ultimate Authority on Procedure
    1. 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

  1. These Bylaws shall be ratified by a 2⁄3 majority of the membership present at an organizing meeting.

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