CONSTITUTION and BYLAWS of the
METRO-DETROIT DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS of AMERICA
Adopted May 2022
ARTICLE I NAME, TERRITORY, OFFICE.
Section 1 Name.
The Name of this organization is the Metro-Detroit Democratic Socialists of America, Inc., a Michigan not-for-profit corporation, hereinafter referred to as “MDDSA” or “The Organization.”
Section 2 Territory.
The Organization shall conduct activities in the greater Detroit area within the territory defined by the charter granted by the national Democratic Socialists of America to the MDDSA.
Section 3 Office.
The principal office of The Organization, in the event one is established, shall direct MDDSA activities and be the repository for all MDDSA records.
ARTICLE II PURPOSE.
The purpose of The Organization shall be to organize the activities of the members of the Metro-Detroit Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Its activities shall include education and advocacy.
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 reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, sex or any other factor, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are Democratic Socialists because we believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for the few.
ARTICLE III MEMBERSHIP.
Section 1 Definition.
All members in good standing of the national Democratic Socialists of America, as defined by the national Democratic Socialists of America, who reside in the greater Detroit area within the territory defined by the charter granted by the national Democratic Socialists of America, shall be members of MDDSA.
Section 2 Rights and Privileges.
All members in good standing of the Democratic Socialists of America in the greater Detroit territory defined above shall have a vote on the election of MDDSA delegates to national DSA bodies, MDDSA officers and Steering Committee members, resolutions, and questions. Any member in good standing for at least three (3) months prior to nomination deadlines may stand for MDDSA Chapter office.
Section 3 Local Dues.
MDDSA may establish local dues by a majority vote of the membership of MDDSA called together for the purpose of establishing such dues. Such dues shall be for financial support only and shall not confer additional rights or privileges.
Section 4 Removal of Members.
If a member is found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic or disruptive behavior, the Local may vote to expel them from MDDSA. In order for such a finding to be made, no fewer than five DSA members must formally proffer written charges against the member in question to the Steering Committee (“Committee”), which shall discuss the matter in closed session at the next Committee meeting after receipt of the charge. If the Committee votes by a majority to take these charges to the membership, the charges will be discussed at the next membership meeting. The member in question must receive a copy of the written charges and notice of the meeting no less than two weeks before that meeting takes place. Expulsion of a member requires a two-thirds vote of the membership meeting. An expelled member may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.
ARTICLE IV LOCAL MEETINGS
Section 1 Membership Convention.
MDDSA shall hold its membership convention annually in the month of June. Written notice of the membership convention shall be electronically or physically mailed to all members no less than twenty-one days in advance of the convention. The membership convention shall elect officers and at-large Steering Committee members, and debate and pass resolution(s). The Steering Committee shall set the agenda for the Membership Convention. The Secretary shall cause to be published to the membership, electronically or physically, as well as posted to the MDDSA website, the agenda of the Membership Convention no less than ten days prior to the Convention.
Section 2 Membership Meetings.
Membership meetings are the highest policy-making body of the MDDSA. MDDSA shall hold membership meetings at least three times annually, not inclusive of the Convention, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Committee no less than fifteen days prior to the meeting.
Membership meetings will set MDDSA policy and work priorities within the guidelines set by the membership convention and shall include political education sessions. The Co-Chairs and Secretary, or a subcommittee created by the Co-Chairs and Secretary for this purpose, shall set the agenda for membership meetings, and cause the agenda to be published no less than three (3) days prior to the meeting.
Members may submit items for inclusion on the agenda no less than ten days prior to the meeting.
Section 2.1 Special Meetings.
A simple majority of the Steering Committee, or a simple majority of members at a Membership Meeting or Convention, may call for a Special Membership Meeting. The motion for such meeting shall state the purpose of the meeting, and any business conducted at the Special Meeting must be germane to this purpose.
Section 3 Quorum.
Seven percent (7%) of MDDSA members in good standing constitutes a quorum, and is required for the transaction of business at a MDDSA Membership Meeting and the Membership Convention.
Section 4 Accessibility and Class Consciousness.
The Committee shall strive to ensure that the membership convention and membership meetings are held in facilities that are accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and shall strive to make all of its meetings, forums, and actions accessible and safe spaces for all. This consideration will extend to such matters as privacy for members, the accessibility and safety of the venue, type of food offered (if any), accommodations for differences in sight, hearing, mobility and stamina, child care offerings, and religious and other identity considerations. The Steering Committee shall be considerate of the time constraints and capacities of MDDSA members. Socialism is historically built on class consciousness, specifically on working class participation. MDDSA will take care not to exclude or censor viewpoints of any traditionally disempowered group.
ARTICLE V STEERING COMMITTEE
Section 1 Composition.
The Steering Committee shall consist of the six elected officers of MDDSA as defined in Article VI below, three at-large Steering Committee representatives directly elected by the membership at the same time as the officers, and representatives of each Branch of MDDSA. Each Branch shall be entitled to one representative to the Steering Committee, except for Branches defined by territory. Branches defined by territory (“Territorial Branches”) are entitled to one representative for every fifty members, rounded up from the next twenty-five members. For purposes of apportionment, the Secretary shall conduct the census of the membership of each Territorial Branch. The census shall be derived from membership rolls as of May 30 of each year. No individual member may represent more than one Branch or Commission. The Steering Committee shall strive for a balance of identities reflective of the working class of the greater Detroit area.
Section 1.1 Elections.
The process for the future election of members of the Steering Committee shall be proposed by the Internal Elections Committee and adopted by the Steering Committee within ninety days after the election of the officers and at-large members.
Section 2 Function, Powers and Duties.
The Steering Committee is the executive body of MDDSA. All actions taken by the Steering Committee are subject to ratification or amendment by the membership at the next membership meeting at which quorum is reached, or at the membership convention if it constitutes the next membership meeting. The Steering Committee administers the affairs of MDDSA and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the membership convention and membership meetings. In between Steering Committee meetings, the Committee may vote via electronic means on items brought to it by Committee members. Electronic votes shall be managed by the Secretary and held open for no longer than 72 hours. The Steering Committee proposes and adopts policies, campaigns, and activities; receives reports from committees and Branches; advises committees and Branches on policy issues; assigns temporary duties to Steering Committee members or Project or Standing Committees; calls emergency meetings of the membership; has sole authority to create, certify, and regulate Branches and Working Groups; and acts on any matter requiring immediate attention by MDDSA.
Section 3 Steering Committee Meetings.
The Steering Committee shall meet at least once each month, or more frequently if determined by a prior Steering Committee meeting or the call of the Chairs upon consultation with any five other members of the Steering Committee. All members of the Steering Committee must be given four days written notice of regular Steering Committee meetings. Meetings of the Steering Committee shall be open to dues-paying MDDSA members, and the Steering Committee shall hold the meetings in locations which can accommodate observers.
Section 3.1 Extraordinary Meetings.
Under extraordinary circumstances, either Co-Chair may, with twenty-four-hour notice, convene an Extraordinary Meeting. The purpose of the meeting shall be stated in the written instrument convening such Extraordinary Meeting. Only the matters described in the convening instrument may be acted upon in such Extraordinary Meeting. Examples of an extraordinary circumstance include but are not limited to: a legal summons or legal threat to the Organization; a pressing financial decision or obligation; an emergency situation involving a threat to a member or membership.
Section 4 Quorum.
Fifty percent of the members of the Steering Committee constitutes a quorum and is required for the transaction of business by the Steering Committee.
Section 5 Agendas and Meeting Minutes.
The Secretary shall cause to be published to the general membership agendas of all Steering Committee meetings, either by electronic mail, posting on the Chapter website, or both, no less than forty-eight hours prior to each Steering Committee meeting, except Extraordinary Meetings. Minutes of all Steering Committee meetings shall be approved by the Steering Committee at the subsequent Steering Committee meeting, and shall be delivered by mail or electronic mail, or both, to all Steering Committee members, and published on the Internet within ten days of approval, with notice of such publication to all Members.
Minutes of all Membership Meetings or the Membership Convention shall be approved by the membership at the subsequent Membership Meeting, and published to the membership via mail, or electronic mail, and by posting on the Internet, no more than thirty days from the date of such meeting. Copies of unapproved meeting minutes shall be made available for inspection no less than fourteen days prior to the subsequent meeting at which they will be approved.
Section 6 Removal and Vacancies.
Any member of the Steering Committee may be removed by the Steering Committee for violation of the articles or bylaws of the Organization, or for conduct prejudicial to the best interests of DSA or MDDSA, including malfeasance, nonfeasance, gross negligence, chronic absence, or undemocratic behavior.
The Steering Committee must notify said member of its intention to vacate their position no less than five business days prior to the meeting at which such action will be voted on. The removal of the officer shall be made by motion and require a two-thirds majority of the Steering Committee. The motion shall state with particularity the reason for removal, with reference to specific acts. In the event of a vacancy of a Branch Representative, the vacancy shall be filled by the relevant Branch no later than forty-five days from the vacancy. If the vacancy is a Steering Committee officer or at-large Steering Committee member of MDDSA, an acting successor may be appointed by the Co-Chairs until a new officer is elected at the next regularly scheduled membership meeting. The Membership at the next Membership Meeting or a Special Meeting called for that purpose may rescind the removal by majority vote of the quorum present at that meeting.
Should any member of the Steering Committee miss three or more consecutive Steering Committee meetings, exclusive of Extraordinary Meetings, the Steering Committee shall declare that position vacant, or excuse one or more absence by majority vote.
Section 7 Recall of Officers.
Elected and appointed officers of the Steering Committee may be recalled by the membership at a membership meeting or membership convention. Recall shall be by motion and second, and a two-thirds vote of the membership at a meeting at which quorum has been established. The motion shall state with particularity the acts of malfeasance, nonfeasance, gross negligence, or undemocratic behavior comprising the grounds for removal.
ARTICLE VI LOCAL OFFICERS, AT-LARGE MEMBERS, AND STEWARDS.
Section 1 Definition.
The six officers of MDDSA shall be the two Co-Chairs (at least one of whom shall not identify as a cis-male), the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Campaigns Coordinator, and the Membership Engagement Coordinator. Only one person may serve as an officer at any given time.
The other positions on the Steering Committee will be made up of three at-large members and Branch Representatives. These officers and at-large members will be responsible for organizing the Standing Committees of the chapter and for executing chapter business as directed by the membership. Duties and responsibilities of these officers are as follows:
Section 1.1 Collective Responsibilities.
The Steering Committee is the highest elected body of MDDSA and is the political leadership of the chapter when the membership is not assembled, subordinate to the bylaws as well as resolutions passed by members at general body meetings and local conventions which may overturn its decisions.
The Steering Committee is not permitted to overturn decisions of the general body meeting or local convention. Steering decisions are subject to ratification by the general body.
In order to ensure the chapter speaks in one voice, statements or endorsements by chapter members or formations that could reasonably be interpreted as creating a new obligation or position for MDDSA as a whole must be approved by the Steering Committee, a general body meeting, or the local convention.
Public commentary by members and chapter formations in relation to established MDDSA policies, campaigns, and objectives does not require Steering Committee approval.
The Steering Committee is empowered to interpret and enforce the code of conduct and such powers as are delegated to it by the bylaws.
Section 2 Co-Chairs.
The Co-Chairs of MDDSA are the executive officers of the chapter. Their responsibility is ensuring that all resolutions and orders of the Membership and Steering Committee are carried out. They shall oversee cooperation and interaction of all officers, Standing Committees, and Working Groups. They shall prepare agendas for and preside over membership and Steering Committee meetings, and shall assume the powers and duties of the presiding officers as specified in Robert’s Rules of Order. The Co-Chairs shall be the official public spokespersons for MDDSA and shall initiate such actions and policies as the membership may demand. The Co-Chairs will share responsibility to sign or countersign all certificates, contracts, or other instruments of MDDSA except where otherwise designated in these bylaws. The Co-Chairs shall be directly elected according to the procedures defined in these bylaws. Co-Chairs shall serve one-year terms. The Co-Chairs shall be knowledgeable of all MDDSA bylaws and Robert's Rules of Order and will ensure that the chapter is in compliance with both when conducting chapter business. They will assist committees with setting and meeting goals and that all proposals voted on by the membership at the annual membership convention are enacted.
Section 2.1 Parliamentarian.
The Parliamentarian shall be an appointed position that reports directly to the Co-Chairs. The Parliamentarian will support Steering Committee meetings and general body meetings to ensure that all motions, voting, and procedures are in compliance with the chapter bylaws and Robert's Rules of Order. Upon seating of the Steering Committee, members will be able to submit nomination applications to the Steering Committee for the Parliamentarian position. The Parliamentarian will be appointed by a simple majority of the Steering Committee. The Parliamentarian will serve for a period of 6 months. After that period, the Steering Committee will vote on whether to extend the term of the current Parliamentarian, or to begin searching for a new one. The Parliamentarian can be removed by a majority vote of the Steering Committee for any reason.
Section 3 Secretary.
The Secretary is responsible for publishing meeting agendas and keeping meeting minutes during Steering Committee and member meetings. They will ensure distribution of minutes and agendas and proper notice given in accordance with these bylaws or as required by law. The Secretary shall be the custodian of all MDDSA records. The Secretary shall keep a register of the address, phone number, and email address of each member of the Steering Committee, which shall be furnished to the Secretary by each Steering Committee member. The Secretary shall be directly elected according to the procedures defined in these bylaws to a one-year term. The Secretary will also oversee the organization and operation of the outward facing communications and media of the chapter. This will require organizing the Communications Committee and other administrative functions such as the chapter newspaper (The Detroit Socialist), graphic design, and information technology.
Section 3.1 Minutes and Records.
The Secretary shall be responsible for the recording of minutes of the Membership Conventions, Membership Meetings, and the Steering Committee Meetings, and shall maintain supervision over these minutes, resolutions, reports, other official records and seal. The Secretary is responsible for ensuring that adequate notice is given to the membership prior to Steering Committee meetings, membership meetings and the membership convention. The Secretary shall assist the Co-Chairs set the agenda for Membership Meetings, and cause the agenda to be published no less than five (5) days prior to the meeting.
Section 3.2 Communications Committee.
The Secretary shall be responsible for organization of the Communications Committee which will handle all outwards facing media and communications of the chapter. This includes posts to chapter social media. The Communications Committee will oversee the content and publication of the chapter newspaper (The Detroit Socialist). Any outward facing graphic design for chapter events and campaigns will be coordinated and supported by the Communications Committee as needed, this includes but is not limited to chapter fundraisers, and chapter meetings and events.
Section 3.2.1 Internal Communications.
The Communications Committee shall be responsible for publishing information to chapter communications channels. This can include but is not limited to updates about general meetings, chapter votes, Steering Committee meetings, Standing Committee and Working Group meetings, active campaigns and events, articles, bylaws amendments, and other internal communications addressed to the membership body. The Communications Committee will establish and publish posting guidelines and the communications request process.
Section 3.2.2 Communications Steward.
The Communications Steward is a non-voting, appointed position that reports directly to the Secretary. The Secretary and the Communications Steward will meet on a frequent basis to distribute the responsibilities for chapter communications as outlined in Section 3.1, Section 3.2, and Section 3.2.1 of the bylaws. When the Steering Committee is seated, members can submit nomination applications to the Steering Committee for the Communications Steward position. The Communications Steward will be appointed by a simple majority of the Steering Committee. The Communications Steward will serve for a period of 6 months. After that period, the Steering Committee will vote on whether to extend the term of the current Communications Steward, or to begin searching for a new one. The Communications Steward can be removed by a majority vote of the Steering Committee for any reason. The Communications Steward will share in some of or all of the responsibilities of the Secretary’s communications responsibilities as dictated by the Secretary.
Section 3.3 Information Technology.
The Secretary shall be responsible for organization of the Technology Working Group which will handle chapter accounts and technology, information security, chapter multimedia and archive. The Technology Working Group will be responsible for handling member access to the Member Portal, chapter data, meeting minutes and recordings as well as chapter votes (accessible through the chapter google drive). The Technology Working Group will ensure transition of Steering Committee members and access to official chapter accounts in addition to password updates and access. The Technology Working group will provide support for setup and scheduling of video conferencing and zoom calls for general meetings and chapter events.
Section 3.3.1 Technology Steward.
The Technology Steward is a non-voting, appointed position that reports directly to the Secretary. The Secretary and the Technology Steward will meet on a frequent basis to distribute the responsibilities for chapter technology as outlined in Section 3.3 of the bylaws. When the Steering Committee is seated, members can submit nomination applications to the Steering Committee for the Technology Steward position. The Technology Steward will be appointed by a simple majority of the Steering Committee. The Technology Steward will serve for a period of 6 months. After that period, the Steering Committee will vote on whether to extend the term of the current Technology Steward, or to begin searching for a new one. The Technology Steward can be removed by a majority vote of the Steering Committee for any reason. The Technology Steward will share in some of or all of the responsibilities of the Secretary’s technology responsibilities as dictated by the Secretary.
Section 4 Treasurer.
The Treasurer shall, as directed by the Steering Committee, have care and custody of the general funds, securities, properties, and assets of MDDSA. The Treasurer shall ensure that the funds and securities are deposited in the bank(s), trust companies, or depositories that the Steering Committee shall designate.
At the direction of the Steering Committee, the Treasurer will ensure disbursement and disposal of the same, taking proper vouchers for such disbursements.
They shall ensure that accurate books of account are kept in accordance with commonly accepted accounting principles, recording the amount of all monies, funds, securities, properties, and assets in their custody, wherever located, and showing the amount of disbursement made and the disposition of properties. They shall exhibit said books and records when required by the Steering Committee, Chair or Co-Chairs, or government agency of appropriate regulator jurisdiction pursuant to law.
The Treasurer prepares an annual fiscal-year budget for approval by the membership convention and delivers the annual financial report to the Membership Convention. The Treasurer prepares and submits financial statements to the Steering Committee for their review at least quarterly. The Treasurer shall also be an ex officio Co-Chair of the Fundraising Committee. The Treasurer shall be directly elected according to the procedures defined in these bylaws to a one-year term.
The Treasurer will be assisted in these duties where appropriate by the Finance Committee, which they will chair. The Finance Committee will be responsible for establishing and presenting a chapter budget to membership as well as soliciting feedback from committees about expenses and fundraising needs. This budget will be approved by the Steering Committee and membership and set fundraising goals for the chapter over the year. The Finance Committee will establish a planning group for preparation and execution of the annual Douglas-Debs Dinner.
Section 5 Membership Engagement Chair.
Membership Engagement Chair will be a new officer position responsible for all member development, recruitment, and internal member affairs. This will necessitate the organization of a Membership Engagement Committee (a Standing Committee). The other Co-Chair of this Standing Committee will be the Membership Coordinator, who is responsible for new member orientation, recruitment drives, and retention projects. Other responsibilities of the Membership Engagement Chair will be oversight of the political education committee and political education programs for the chapter (this can include but is not limited to new member onboarding, socialist night school, political education at general membership meetings, and town halls).
Section 5.1 Membership Coordinator.
The Membership Engagement Committee will be co-chaired by the Membership Coordinator. The Membership Coordinator will be a position elected from the membership of the ME Committee. Their responsibilities will be for internal chapter membership development. This includes internal outreach programs such as New Member Orientation, chapter social events (happy hours, meet MDDSA, etc.), recruitment and retention drives.
Section 5.2 Political Education Coordinator.
The Political Education Committee will be co-chaired by the Political Education Coordinator. The Political Education Coordinator will be a position elected from the membership of the Political Education Committee. The Political Education Committee shall be responsible for coordination of political education events for the chapter. This includes Socialist Night School, discussion and reading groups, educational presentations to general body meetings, chapter town halls, and member training.
Section 6 Campaigns Coordinator.
The Campaigns Coordinator will monitor progress on all outward facing campaigns. They are responsible for ensuring the chapter executes its priorities as determined at the chapter membership convention. The Campaigns Coordinator will ensure that any campaigns adopted by the membership are run in accordance with the MDDSA Campaigns Proposal and provide regular reports to the Steering Committee and general body about the status of ongoing chapter priority campaigns.
Section 6.1 Electoral.
The Campaigns Coordinator will work with the Co-Chairs of the electoral committee in developing the chapters strategic approach to electoral organizing,and securing resources for our MDDSA endorsed electoral campaigns. If necessary the Campaigns Coordinator will act as a liaison between electoral and other MDDSA organizing committees to ensure the chapter builds lasting, strategic organizing infrastructure.
The Campaigns Coordinator will be responsible for working with the Co-Chairs of the electoral committee and the DSA National Electoral Committee. This includes preparing and submitting candidates for the national endorsement process, the NEC grant program, and long term electoral strategy discussion.
Section 6.1.1 Electoral Steward.
The Electoral Steward is a non voting appointed position that reports directly to the Campaigns Coordinator. The Electoral Steward and the Campaigns Coordinator will meet on a frequent basis to divide up the chapters electoral responsibilities as listed in Section 6.1 of the bylaws. Once the Steering Committee is seated, membership can submit nomination applications to the Steering Committee for the Electoral Steward position. The Electoral Steward will be appointed by a simple majority of the Steering Committee. The Electoral Steward will serve for a period of 6 months. After which, the Steering Committee will vote on whether to keep the current Electoral Steward, or to begin searching for a new one. The Electoral Steward can be removed by a majority vote of the Steering Committee for any reason. The Electoral Steward will share in some of or all of the responsibilities of the Campaigns Coordinator’s electoral work, as delegated by the Campaign’s Coordinator
Section 6.2 Non Electoral Priority Campaigns.
The Campaigns Coordinator will support all ongoing non-electoral chapter priority campaigns as needed. These campaigns will be determined by the priorities established at the chapter membership convention. The Campaigns Coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that Working Groups and committees are operating in accordance with the MDDSA Campaigns Proposal. If necessary, the Campaigns Coordinator has the power to temporarily chair vacant priority campaign Working Groups and committees.
Section 6.3 Direct Action.
The Campaigns Coordinator will work with committees to ensure campaigns have a ladder of escalating actions. If chapter membership should mobilize for direct actions outside the initial scope of a priority campaign, it is the duty of the Campaigns Coordinator to connect such organizing to the strategy of an ongoing priority campaign.
Section 7 At-Large.
In addition to the officer positions outlined above, there will be three at-large members of the Steering Committee. These at-large members are free to chair sub-committees and Working Groups or to co-chair other officer committees. They may not chair or organize more than one committee at a time.
Section 8 Multiple Offices.
No person shall hold multiple officer positions on the Steering Committee, or serve as both a Branch Representative and an officer of the Steering Committee, or hold any officer position on the Steering Committee or as a Branch Representative if they are also serving on the National Political Committee (“NPC”) of the national DSA.
Section 9 Term of Office.
Elected officers’ terms are defined in Sections 2 through 13 above. The terms of office begin July 1 and end June 30.
ARTICLE VII BRANCHES.
Section 1 Definition.
A Branch is a sub-division of MDDSA consisting of members in good standing residing within a defined territory, belonging to a particular institution, or sharing a common interest. A Branch defined by a common interest may be referred to as a Commission. Membership in Branches defined by interest or by institution may overlap with other Branches, but Branches defined by territory may not overlap with other Branches defined by territory.
Section 2 Recognition and Dissolution.
A Branch may be chartered by majority vote of the Steering Committee upon petition of at least 75 members residing within a defined territory, belonging to a particular institution, or sharing a common interest. Substantively similar Branches may be merged by the Steering Committee rather than granted separate representation. A Branch may be dissolved by the Steering Committee if it has not met for at least three months, for failure to conduct its internal affairs according to the Branch’s or MDDSA bylaws, or if it has been promoting policies contrary to those of MDDSA or national Democratic Socialists of America. The Steering Committee shall consider the matter of dissolution of a Branch at a Steering Committee meeting upon receipt of a petition signed by no less than 20% of the full membership of the Branch in question. The representative(s) from said Branch must be informed that dissolution is on the agenda when notified of the meeting. The decision to dissolve a Branch shall be ratified or rejected at the next Membership Meeting of MDDSA, during which time said Branch may be continued or re-established.
Upon dissolution, all property and records of a Branch will be surrendered to the MDDSA Steering Committee.
Section 3 Young Democratic Socialists of America (“YDSA”) Chapters.
All YDSA chapters within the territory of MDDSA and recognized by the national Democratic Socialists of America shall together be represented by one representative, selected by the YDSA chapters according to their rules. Representatives from YDSA Branches shall have full rights of Steering Committee membership.
Section 4 Non-Territorial Branch Representatives.
Representatives from non-territorial Branches shall be elected from among their own membership between June 1 and June 30 to a one- year term beginning July 1 and ending June 30 of the following year. Representatives from non-territorial Branches shall have full rights of Steering Committee membership.
Section 5 Branch Responsibilities and Governance.
Branches are responsible for promoting and implementing MDDSA policies and programs, conducting their internal affairs in a democratic manner, abide by the processes and policies of MDDSA, and shall promote diversity of participation and leadership that reflects Metro-Detroit’s working class. Branches shall hold regular meetings and encourage democratic participation in the operations of the Chapter. Failure to meet these responsibilities shall be grounds for intervention by the Steering Committee to the extent necessary.
ARTICLE VIII COMMITTEES.
Section 1 Project Committees.
The Steering Committee may establish and appoint members of temporary committees for the purpose of operating specific projects, campaigns, or other functions (“Project Committees”) at its discretion and by majority vote of the Steering Committee at any Steering Committee meeting at which there is a quorum. Project Committees shall operate according to democratic principles and elect their leadership. The Campaigns Coordinator shall be an ex officio member of all Project Committees. The Steering Committee may by majority vote appoint the Campaigns Coordinator to be one of two Co-Chairs of any Project Committee. Project Committees shall abide to the extent possible by feminist process in their operations, as defined in Addendum 1 of these Bylaws.
Section 1.1 Project Committee Initial Membership.
The Steering Committee shall appoint the initial membership of a Project Committee from amongst its own membership, or volunteers of the general membership, or both, by majority vote. There shall be no fewer than two members of the Steering Committee, exclusive of the Campaign(s) Coordinator, on a Project Committee. After this initial appointment, the Project Committee shall solicit volunteers from amongst the membership.
Section 1.2 Project Committee Purpose.
The Steering Committee shall define the purpose of the Project Committee in the motion by which the Project Committee is created.
Section 1.3 Project Committee Duration.
The Steering Committee shall define the duration of the Project Committee in the motion by which the Project Committee is created, and may extend the duration of the Project Committee by majority vote at any time prior to the expiration of that duration.
Section 1.4 Project Committee Standards.
The Steering Committee shall create standards and criteria for creation of Project Committees, with criteria for a Project Committee and instructions for the form of proposals for their creation.
Section 1.5 Membership Initiation or Dissolution of a Project Committee.
Members may initiate the creation or dissolution of a project committee for a specific purpose and duration by presenting a petition of 2% of MDDSA members at least ten days in advance of a membership meeting or convention, at which point the resolution will be considered for a vote.
Section 2 Standing Committees.
Standing Committees are permanent subcommittees of the Steering Committee. The Committees shall be comprised of volunteers from amongst members and operate according to democratic principles and elect their leadership. Where applicable, certain Steering Committee officers shall hold ex officio seats. The Standing Committees shall have no fewer than three members, except where otherwise indicated. Chairs of Standing Committees shall serve no longer than one-year terms. Standing Committees shall abide to the fullest extent possible by feminist process in their operations, as defined in Addendum 1 of these Bylaws. The following Standing Committees are created:
Section 2.1 Fundraising Committee.
The Fundraising Committee shall be responsible for managing fundraising for the Chapter, and coordinating and/or assisting the fundraising activities of the Chapter’s sub-entities, including assisting Branches, Working Groups, and committees in their fundraising activities. The Fundraising Committee shall have two Co-Chairs, at least one of whom shall be the Treasurer of the Chapter.
Section 2.2 Communications Committee.
The purpose of the Communications Committee is to build and maintain the various lines of communication, both external and internal, of MDDSA. The composition of the initial Communications Committee shall be that of the Communications Working Group at the time of the adoption of these Bylaws. The Communications Committee shall have two Co-Chairs, at least one of whom shall be the Communications Coordinator.
Section 2.3 Internal Elections Committee.
The Internal Elections Committee shall consist of no fewer than two (2) members. One member of the Internal Elections Committee shall be the Secretary of the Chapter. Formal sub-entities of the Chapter shall report the results of elections to this Committee. The Internal Elections Committee shall manage the elections of the Steering Committee, and for votes on the repeal or adoption of the Chapter Bylaws. It may manage the elections of the Territorial Branches, and for elections of Special Delegations, e.g., to the national Convention or to such regional DSA bodies or conventions that may be formally constituted. The Committee shall include in its best practices and in its plans for direct management of elections provisions for election security, including privacy, certification and registration of voters, and electronic voting. The Committee shall include in its best practices and in its plans for direct management of elections nomination procedures, timing of announcements for elections and distribution of candidate statements, and considerations for privacy of members.
Section 2.3.1 Minimum Timing Requirement.
No election for the Steering Committee or Territorial Branches shall be held without a minimum of ten days between announcement of nominees and the date of the vote.
Section 2.4 Education and Policy Committee.
The Education and Policy Committee shall be composed of no fewer than two members, and shall be responsible for the political education and policy research of the Chapter, including, without limitation, (a) organizing educational events; and (b) coordinating policy and research tasks of the Project Committees and the Working Groups at their request; and (c) developing educational processes for use by the Project Committees and Working Groups. This Committee shall have two Co-Chairs, at least one of whom shall be the Political Education Coordinator of the Chapter.
Section 2.5 Logistics and Planning Committee.
The Logistics and Planning Committee shall be responsible for planning logistics of Membership Meetings and the Membership Convention, and shall create and implement best practices for management of MDDSA office supplies and materials. At least one of the two Co-Chairs shall serve on this Committee. The membership of the Committee shall be comprised of volunteers from amongst the Steering Committee and the general membership. The Committee shall have two Co-Chairs, elected by the membership of the Committee.
Section 2.6 Membership Engagement Committee.
The Membership Engagement Committee shall be responsible for the oversight and implementation of a mobilizer system for purposes of recruiting, onboarding new members, engaging membership with the projects and priorities of the Chapter, and such other initiatives that tend to engage membership with each other. The Membership Engagement Committee shall be comprised of at least one Branch Representative from each territorial Branch as well as volunteers from amongst the general membership. The Membership Engagement Committee shall have two Co-Chairs, elected by the membership of the Committee, one of whom will be the Membership Engagement Officer.
Section 2.7 Electoral Committee.
The Electoral Committee shall be responsible for coordinating the electoral activities and campaigns of the Chapter, including without limitation: (a) creating endorsement procedures; (b) creating and disseminating endorsement questionnaires; (c) conducting candidate interviews; (d) submitting nominations to the Steering Committee and membership; (e) organizing canvasses and other campaign activities for endorsed candidates.The Electoral Committee shall have two Co-Chairs, elected by the membership of the Committee, one of whom will be the Electoral Coordinator.
Section 3 Ad Hoc Committees.
The Steering Committee or the Co-Chairs may create and appoint members to ad hoc committees to handle specific administrative tasks of the Steering Committee. Ad hoc Committees shall have at least two and no more than nine members. The Co-Chairs or the Steering Committee shall set the specific purpose and duration of the ad hoc committees in a written statement or in the motion which creates the ad hoc committee, except that in no case shall an ad hoc committee operate for more than four months.
Section 4 Working Groups Generally.
Working Groups are bodies essential to the character of the Chapter, and may be organized around common interests, institutions, or substantive areas. Working Groups may be self-organized and certified by the Steering Committee, or established at the initiation of Steering Committee. The Steering Committee may establish best practices and procedures for the creation and democratic operation of Working Groups, and provide support to the operations of Working Groups upon request of their members.
ARTICLE IX AMENDMENTS TO THE BY-LAWS.
Section 1 Notice of Proposed Amendments.
Members wishing to amend these bylaws must submit such draft amendments (a “Draft Amendment Petition”) to the Co-Chairs and Secretary twenty-one days in advance of regularly scheduled membership meetings or the membership convention. The Draft Amendment Petition shall be signed by a Proponent plus ten members of the Chapter. Discussion and a vote upon such amendments shall be listed on the membership meeting or membership convention agenda which is electronically mailed to the membership ten days in advance of the meeting. The Co-Chairs and Secretary, or an ad hoc committee convened for this purpose, may consolidate substantively similar draft amendments. To ensure robust debate and economy of time, no more than five proposed amendments, chosen by the Co-Chairs and Secretary or the ad hoc committee created for this purpose, may be considered in one meeting.
Section 2 Vote.
These bylaws may be amended, repealed or altered in whole or in part by a two-thirds vote of the membership meeting at which there is a quorum, and where proposed amendments meet criteria in Section 1 above.
Section 3 Notification of Changes in Bylaws.
MDDSA members must be notified within thirty days of any changes to these bylaws. This may be done by electronic or physical mailing of meeting minutes or by electronic or physical mailing of revised bylaws.
ARTICLE X CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND HARASSMENT POLICY.
Section 1 Form.
MDDSA adopts the Grievance and Harassment Policy adopted by the national DSA at the 2017 National Membership Convention, Resolution #33, a copy of which is attached hereto as Addendum 2.
Section 2 Conduct of Members.
All members of MDDSA have a right to participation and enjoyment of the rights and privileges of membership without interference, harassment, or bullying behavior.
Section 3 Mediation and Conflict Resolution.
Members may request, and where possible the Executive Committee may facilitate, mediation for conflict resolution between members or groups of members. Where feasible professional mediation may be sought.
Section 4 Incorporation.
Resolution #33 of the 2017 National DSA Membership Convention is incorporated fully to this Section as the policy of MDDSA and is included as Addendum 2 attached hereto. Further to Resolution #33, the Steering Committee will:
- Vet and appoint at least two members to serve as the designated Harassment Grievance Officers (“HGOs”);
- Determine term limits for HGO(s) and develop methods for removing HGO(s) for cause;
- Establish an email address to function as a confidential reporting “hotline” that is only accessible by the HGO(s);
- Develop template forms both for reporting and responding to accusations of harassment in the form required by the Resolution; and
- Handle complaints in the manner prescribed by the Resolution.
ARTICLE XI HOUSEKEEPING.
Section 1 Construction.
If there is any conflict between the provisions of Michigan State law and the bylaws, provisions of Michigan State law shall govern.
Section 2 Fiscal Year.
The Fiscal Year of the Organization shall be from January 1 to December 31. The Treasurer shall present a proposed budget for approval at the first membership meeting of the fiscal year.
Section 3 Conflict of Interest.
A conflict of interest exists when a matter to be acted upon by the Steering Committee confers a direct, substantial benefit to any Steering Committee member. The Steering Committee Member shall disclose the conflict and abstain from voting on any matter before the Steering Committee which places them in a conflict of interest.
Section 4 Dissolution.
This organization may be dissolved by a two-thirds vote of the general membership at a general meeting. Upon dissolution of the organization, any residual assets shall become the property of the national Democratic Socialists of America.
Section 5 MDDSA Rules of Order.
The rules contained in Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern all meetings in cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws.
Section 5.1 Actions out of Order.
Any action taken which violates these bylaws shall be considered out of order and of no force or effect.
Section 6 Social Media and Online Assets.
Section 6.1 Definitions and Purpose.
Social media is defined as all current platforms on the internet that allow for exchange of information between registered “accounts.” Online assets are organizational email accounts, websites, and opt-in mass email platforms, and other similar tools for using the internet, whether paid-for or free, that the MDDSA may “own.”
Section 6.2 Ownership and Control.
Social media accounts and online assets set up in the name of MDDSA are the virtual property of MDDSA and, as such, the content of these assets will be under the control of the MDDSA Steering Committee or its delegates. The Co-Chairs, the Secretary, and the Communications Coordinator will hold the keys and passwords to all social media and online assets as a security measure. Membership or association with MDDSA does not confer on any individual member the right to control or dictate online content. Officers of MDDSA shall self-educate about libel laws, security, and privacy considerations in order to responsibly control online content.
Section 6.3 Adjunctive to legal notice requirements.
Use of social media accounts and online assets are not a replacement for legal notice requirements. The Secretary, on behalf of the Steering Committee, shall use social media accounts and online assets to publicize membership meetings and program meetings and actions and events of MDDSA.
Section 7 Prohibited Activity.
MDDSA shall not engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention, state statute, or federal law, including IRS regulations.
ADDENDUM 1 FEMINIST PROCESS.
The principles of feminist process for holding decision-making meetings and discussions includes the following principles:
Section 1 Respect the Facilitator(s).
Members should be aware of the facilitator(s) and their responsibility to ensure a comradely and productive meeting.
Section 2 Identify Goals and Objectives for the Meeting.
Friction is more likely where meetings do not have clear purposes and outcomes, so agendas should state with what the objectives and goals of a particular meeting are.
Section 3 “Share the Air.”
Members should be aware of how often they are speaking or interjecting, and make an effort to save their comments or questions if they are interrupting or dominating the conversation.
Section 4 Make “I” Statements.
Rather than objective assertions, statements framed as “I think…” and “I feel….” and “In my experience…” should be used in political discussions.
Section 5 Address Behavior, Not Individuals.
If the course of a conversation or discussion has become contentious, address the behavior causing the problem rather than attack the individual(s) involved.
Section 6 Do Not Be Afraid to Apologize or Ask for an Apology.
Comrades should be comfortable asking for resolution through apology, and comrades should freely offer apologies with the understanding that cooperation is built through mutual understanding and trust.
Section 7 Do Not Assign Motives.
Assuming good faith includes not assuming you understand other people’s motives for taking or supporting a particular position.
Section 8 Mindfulness of Jargon.
Everyone should feel comfortable expressing themselves, try to avoid use of jargon or in-group speak.
ADDENDUM 2 DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA: HARASSMENT POLICY.
Democratic Socialists of America is committed to creating a space that is welcoming and inclusive to members of all genders, races, and classes. The following policy provides guidelines to ensure that everyone is able to organize without fear of harassment, abuse, or harm.
Section 1 Scope.
Section 1.1 Prohibited behavior.
Members shall not engage in harassment on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, disability, race, color, religion, national origin, class, age, or profession. Harassing or abusive behavior, such as unwelcome attention, 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.
Section 1.2 Other protected classes.
Harassment based on categories not encompassed by those listed in section 1.1 will be evaluated at the discretion of the HGO and Steering Committee representatives.
Section 2 Reporting Harassment.
Section 2.1 Complaints.
Members may follow the standard DSA complaint process as set out in the following sections if they believe they have been harassed by another member. There will be no time limits requiring the accuser to file a report within any amount of time after the alleged harassment has occurred.
- “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).
- 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.
Section 3 Harassment Grievance Officers.
Members filing a formal complaint must contact a DSA harassment grievance officer (“HGO”).
Section 3.1 Appointing HGOs.
Each DSA chapter with over one hundred members will vet and appoint at least two members to serve as the designated HGO(s) and determine term limits for HGO(s) and develop methods for removing HGO(s) for cause.
Otherwise, a DSA chapter with one hundred or fewer members will direct all grievance complaints through the national HGO. DSA National will vet and appoint at least one staff member to serve as the designated national HGO, determine appropriate training requirements for HGOs, and determine term limits for HGO(s) and develop methods for removing HGO(s) for cause.
Section 3.2 Outline of HGO Report.
Each DSA chapter with over one hundred members and DSA National will be responsible for implementing the following structures no later than July 1, 2018:
Establishing an email address to function as a confidential reporting “hotline” that is only accessible by the HGO(s) and (2) develop template forms both for reporting and responding to accusations of harassment that include:
- The parties’ contact information
- The names of the parties involved
- A description of reported incident
- Developing template forms for appealing the form of relief determined by the Steering Committee that include the grounds of the appeal.
Section 3.3 Reporting Procedure and Timeline.
After a written report has been submitted--whether through the email hotline or otherwise, the following steps will be taken:
- The HGO(s) responsible for the reporting channel used by the accuser will contact the accused member within seven days to notify them that a report has been filed against them and request a written response to the report either affirming or denying its substance;
- The accused will submit their written response within seven days of being notified. If the accused does not meet this deadline, the HGO will recommend the Steering Committee move to take appropriate disciplinary action;
If the accused denies the substance of the report, the HGO overseeing the dispute will have the option to investigate the report by:
- interviewing other members with direct knowledge of the substance of the report;
- requesting documentation from either the accuser or accused or any other parties directly involved; or
- employing any and all other means deemed necessary, with the utmost respect for the confidentiality of the parties, within a time period not to exceed ten days.
- The HGO(s) responsible for adjudicating the dispute will determine whether the report is credible and, if necessary, make a recommendation to the Steering Committee for appropriate disciplinary action as soon as practicable, but ultimately within thirty days of the report being filed. This is to ensure the timely, efficient, accurate, and discreet adjudication of all reports. The HGO(s) may notify Steering of the accuser’s report and its substance at any time after the report is filed, but must give written notice to both the accuser and the accused member before doing so.
Section 3.4 HGO Responsibilities.
The HGO(s) will:
- Receive, acknowledge receipt of, and archive accuser reports;
- Contact the accused to notify them of the accusations, request their written response, and archive any written response;
- Conduct any necessary investigation of the claim; and
- Present their findings to the Steering Committee with a written report and, if necessary, a recommendation for disciplinary action.
- If necessary, HGO(s) may recommend that parties do not contact each other for the duration of the investigative process.
Compile a yearly report that details:
- How many reports were made
- How many were taken to the disciplinary process
- How many disciplinary actions were taken
- Any recommended changes for making the reporting system more effective
The aforementioned yearly report will not include personally identifying information of any parties in any dispute. The local HGO(s) will send the report to the national HGO(s) no later than January 1 of the new year.
Section 3.5 Remedies and penalties
All reports will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the HGO(s) and Steering Committee associated with the accuser’s reporting channel. The ultimate disposition of each report will be made by the chapter’s Steering Committee or, in the case of DSA National, the NPC, after that body reviews the written report and recommendation of the HGO(s).
Section 3.5.1 Standard for determining if a report is credible.
The chapter’s Steering Committee or, in the case of DSA National, the NPC will find the factual allegation in a report is "credible" if it more-likely-than-not occurred.
If a chapter’s Steering Committee or, in the case of DSA National, the NPC finds the report to be credible, they are authorized to carry out the following remedies and penalties:
- A formal discussion between the accused and the Steering Committee to develop a plan to change the harassing behavior(s);
- Suspension from committee meetings and other chapter or organizational events;
- Removal from chapter committee(s);
- Removal from DSA; and
- Any and all other relief deemed necessary and just by the chapter or national leadership.
Section 3.5.2 Ability to enforce remedies and penalties.
If a local chapter has established suspension or expulsion procedures, the Steering Committee is authorized to enforce these remedies and penalties in accordance with those procedures.
If the local chapter does not have established suspension or expulsion procedures, they will adopt the procedures outlined in Article III, Section 4 of the DSA Constitution and Article I, Section 3 of DSA bylaws.
- The NPC majority required in these procedures will instead by a Steering Committee majority
- Local chapters that lack these procedures shall have suspension and expulsion procedures in place by July 1, 2018.
DSA national is authorized to enforce certain remedies and penalties in accordance with Article III, Section 4 of the DSA Constitution and Article I, Section 3 of DSA Bylaws
- Removal from DSA; and
- Any and all other relief deemed necessary and just by the chapter or national leadership.
- The appropriate form of relief will be determined by, among other things:
- The request of the accuser;
- The severity of the offense;
- The response of the accused; and
- The accused’s relevant behavioral histories.
Section 3.6 Appeals process.
Either party may appeal the form of relief determined by the Steering Committee by filling out an appellate form created by the accuser’s reporting channel. Appeals must be filed within thirty days of receiving written notice of the Steering Committee’s decision. The limited grounds for appeal are the following:
- Either party believes the behavior was not interpreted using the standards for harassment set out in Section 1.1;
- Procedural errors, misconduct, or conflicts of interest affected the fairness of the outcome; or
- The remedy or penalty determined by Steering was grossly disproportionate to the violation committed
Section 3.7 Retaliation.
This policy prohibits retaliation against any member for bringing a complaint of harassment pursuant to this policy. This policy also prohibits retaliation against a person who assists someone with a complaint of harassment, or participates in any manner in an investigation or resolution of a complaint of discrimination or harassment. Retaliatory behaviors include threats, intimidation, reprisals, and/or adverse actions related to organizing. If any party to the complaint believes there has been retaliation, they may inform the HGO who will determine whether to factor the retaliation into the original complaint, or treat it as an individual incident.