Bylaws of the Metropolitan Detroit Local of the Democratic Socialists of America
[Last Amended October 6, 2018]
ARTICLE I. Name.
The name of the Local shall be the Metropolitan Detroit Local of the Democratic Socialists of America, a not-for-profit corporation.
ARTICLE II. Purpose.
The Metropolitan Detroit Local of the Democratic Socialists of America seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means/resources of production are democratically and socially controlled.
DSA rejects an economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race and sex, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.
DSA envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.
Our conception of socialism is a profoundly democratic one. It is rooted in the belief that human beings should be free to develop to their fullest potential, that public policies should be determined not by wealth but by popular participation, and that individual liberties should be carefully safeguarded. It is committed to a freedom of speech that does not recoil from dissent, to a freedom to organize independent trade unions, women’s groups, political parties, and other formations -- recognizing these as essential bulwarks against the dangers of an intrusive state. It is committed to a freedom of religion that acknowledges the rights of those for whom spiritual concerns are central.
We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision. In the present, we are building a visible socialist presence within the broad democratic left. In the long run, we hope to build a majority movement capable of making democratic socialism a reality in the United States. Our strategy acknowledges the class structure of the U.S. society. This class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population.
ARTICLE III. Membership.
Section 1. Membership
Members of the Metropolitan Detroit Local DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in southeastern Michigan. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the local chapter, to elect delegates to the national convention, to vote on matters related to national policy, and to make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Section 2. Removal of Members
If a full member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of national DSA, or if s/he is found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic, disruptive behavior, the Local may vote to expel her/him from DSA. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally prefer written charges against the member in question to the Local Steering Committee, which shall set the date of a Local meeting for deliberations on the charges. The member in question must receive a copy of the written charges and notice of the meeting a minimum of two weeks before that meeting takes place. Expulsion of a member or affiliate member requires a two-thirds vote of the Local meeting. An expelled full member may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Section 3. Dues.
The Local chapter may establish a Local pledge system of voluntary donations for its members.
ARTICLE IV. Local Meetings.
Section 1. General Meeting.
The Local will hold a minimum of one General Meeting annually, and all members of the Local will receive three weeks written (or electronic mail) notice and an agenda of the General Meeting. The General Meeting will elect Local officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Local.
Section 2. Regular Meetings.
The Local will hold Regular Meetings at least four times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Local Steering Committee. The Regular Meetings will set Local policy and work priorities, and will include political education sessions.
The Local Steering Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local.
Section 3. Emergency Meetings.
The Local Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local on five days notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of 10 percent of the members (but not fewer than six persons) is required for General, Regular, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
ARTICLE V. Local Officers: Powers and Duties.
Section 1. Officers and Terms
The officers of the Local will be the Co-Chairs, Membership Secretary, Secretary, and Treasurer. The term of office will be two years. Elections shall be held in the summer of even numbered years. At least one of the five officers must be a woman and least one must be a man.
Section 2. Vacancies.
In the event of a vacancy in Local office, the Local Steering Committee will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term.
Section 3. Co-Chairs.
- The two Co-Chairs will act together as the chief executive officers of the Local. They will preside over Local and Steering Committee meetings or will appoint a substitute to assume the powers and duties of the presiding officer as specified in Robert’s Rules of Order.
- The Chairs will be the official public spokespersons for the Local and will initiate such actions and policies upon agreement by both co-chairs as the Local’s general welfare may demand, as empowered by the Local membership. In the event that a Co-Chair is unable to perform their duties for a single event or a longer period of time, the Local Steering Committee shall select a substitute for the duration of the Chair’s absence.
- The Co-Chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Local’s branches and committees.
- The Co-Chairs will report to Local Regular and General Meetings on the business of the Steering Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.
- Individual Co-Chairs may introduce policies or actions for consideration by the membership at general, regular, or emergency meetings.
- Co-Chairs may veto each other on any public statements made in their capacity as representing the Metro Detroit Chapter. They may be implored or forced to publish public statements as adopted through resolutions by the general membership.
Section 4 Secretary.
- The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Local, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local. S/he will insure effective communication with the national DSA.
- The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all local and Steering Committee Meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local. S/he shall transfer official records in good condition to her/his successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists.
Section 5. Treasurer.
The Treasurer will 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. In cooperation with the Secretary, the Treasurer will be responsible for insuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will prepare the annual Local budget, and deliver the Local financial report to the General Meeting of the Local, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee of the Local.
Section 6. Additional Duties.
The Local Steering Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the Local, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.
ARTICLE VI. Steering Committee.
Section 1. Composition.
The Local Steering Committee will be composed of the four officers of the Local, the chair(s) of Local Youth Sections, and members at large elected at the same time as the officers of the local.
Section 2. Duties.
- The Steering 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 Steering Committee is the regular executive body of the Local, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the General and Regular Meetings.
- The Local Steering Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Local chapter, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by full members of DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Local meetings.
Section 3. Meetings.
The meetings of the Steering Committee will be held at the call of the Chair at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Steering Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three members of the Steering Committee. All members of the Steering Committee must (ordinarily) be given four days oral or written notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of three members of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.
ARTICLE VII. Branches.
Section 1. Definition.
A branch is a subgroup of the Local consisting of at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. 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 branches will hold membership on the Local Steering Committee.
Section 2. Youth Sections.
Branches established on college campuses and consisting of students will be called Local Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. The chairs of Local Youth Sections will hold membership on the Local Steering Committee.
ARTICLE VIII Committees.
Section 1: Committee Formation & Responsibilities
- All Committees and Working Groups must have a General Statement of Purpose which describes the intent of the committee, and must have at least two members to act as points of contact.
- Members involved in Committees and Working Groups not established as an Officer-Related Committee must appoint one or two members to act as Chairs or Co-Chairs for the group. Such chairs can be automatically replaced if chronically absent or non-responsive by either the Steering Committee or by a vote of other members of the Committee or Working Group as recognized and witnessed by the Steering Committee.
- Chairs of Committees and Working Groups will keep the Steering Committee and the Regular and General Meetings of the Local informed on the activities of the committee.
- Meeting Minutes for all official meetings of Committees and Working Groups must be made available to the Communications Committee, Meeting Secretary, or whomever is in charge of publishing meeting minutes to the public.
ARTICLE IX. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies.
Section 1. Convention.
Local delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by full members of the Local Chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
ARTICLE X. Prohibited Activity
Metropolitan Detroit DSALocal shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501 (c) 4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of Michigan_. Nor shall the local engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
ARTICLE XI. Nominations and Recalls.
Section 1. Nominations Committee.
A three-person Nominations Committee shall be established at least one month prior to every election by vote of a Regular Meeting. It shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected.
Section 2. Nominations Process.
Nominations for Local officers and delegates to the National Convention shall be opened 10 days before and closed at the Annual Meeting. The call for nominations shall be announced to full members of DSA in advance of the General Meeting.
Section 3. Uncontested Positions.
If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.
ARTICLE XII. Amendments.
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of the Local chapter of DSA, and submitted to the Steering Committee a month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Steering Committee is required to provide the Local membership with two weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a majority vote of two consecutive (Regular of General) Local meetings.
ARTICLE XIII. Rules of the Local.
Section 1. Rules.
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 upon the request of a member.
Section 2. Voting.
All voting by the General Membership at General Membership Meetings shall occur in person EXCEPT that Absentee Voting shall be allowed in all elections for members of the Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee, Subcommittees, and Working Groups may allow Absentee Voting in some or all instances, as deemed reasonable and appropriate by the members of those bodies.
Section 3. Action Out of Order.
Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.