ARTICLE I. Name and Definitions
These are the Bylaws of the South Bay Local of the Democratic Socialists of America (“South Bay DSA”). Below, we use the term “Chapter” to refer to locals of DSA.
ARTICLE II. Purpose
South Bay DSA seeks to build a majority movement to liberate the US from capitalism. Instead of a political-economic system serving an elite few, we envision a society based on democratic control of resources and production, and social and economic justice for all.
ARTICLE III. Membership
Section 1. Qualifications
Membership is open to dues-paying members of DSA who live or work in the “South Bay” (Chapter territory recognized by DSA) or nearby, who are not members of another Chapter. Voting powers and offices within South Bay DSA are reserved for members.
Section 2. Dues
Membership dues are set by DSA and must be paid to the DSA National Office. Voluntary dues may be established by South Bay DSA or its Branches and Caucuses, but nonpayment may not restrict membership or participation. “Good standing” is determined by DSA.
Section 3. Active Membership
Members are “active” if they have attended a South Bay DSA Chapter or Branch meeting in the last four months. Notification requirements in these Bylaws only apply for active members.
Section 4. Removal
The Chapter shall expel a member from DSA if found to be (i) in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of DSA, (ii) consistently engaging in undemocratic or disruptive behavior, (iii) under the discipline of a self-defined democratic centralist org, or (iv) deliberately misrepresenting the positions of (or themselves as speaking for) DSA, the Chapter, or its parts.
A member must submit written charges to the Chapter Committee, which shall give fourteen days notice of a meeting (of the member’s Branch – if unclear, their nearest – or a Special Meeting in that Branch’s territory) and the charges. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote of Chapter members present, and may be appealed to the DSA National Political Committee.
Section 5. Code of Conduct
The Chapter may institute a Code of Conduct to elaborate on removal criteria, make recommendations on comradely behavior, and set forth grievance and mediation processes.
ARTICLE IV. Branches
Section 1. Territory
Branches are territory-based subgroups, and the Chapter’s primary democratic assembly. Territory may be reassigned by Chapter Committee consensus or a two-thirds Chapter vote.
Section 2. Charter Proposal
Members who wish to form a Branch must submit a proposed charter with (i) a Branch name; (ii) territory; and (iii) signatures of at least ten prospective members (including two initial Co-Chairs).
Section 3. Membership
Each member of South Bay DSA is a member of at most one Branch, as follows:
- A member may explicitly choose their Branch at any time.
- A member may implicitly choose their Branch by primarily attending meetings of one Branch.
- Else, the member is assigned to the Branch in which they live, if there is such a Branch.
- If needed, Officers may ask the member to choose a Branch explicitly.
ARTICLE V. Caucuses
Section 1. Constituency
Caucuses are subgroups for a constituency (e.g., women, labor, or people of color).
Section 2. Charter Proposal
Members who wish to form a Caucus must submit a proposed charter with (i) a Caucus name; (ii) purpose; (iii) membership criteria; (iv) Caucus Committee size; and (iv) a list of at least five prospective members (including two initial Co-Chairs) signed by those members.
Section 3. Youth Section
Locals of the DSA Youth Section may be recognized as Caucuses by Chapter Committee consensus or the Chapter, and do not need to submit a charter.
ARTICLE VI. Common Rules for Branches and Caucuses
Section 1. Autonomy
Branches and Caucuses are subject to these Bylaws, but have autonomy otherwise. This autonomy shall include, but not be limited to, raising and spending their own funds for their own projects, in coordination with the Treasurer. They must meet at least quarterly, and may adopt separate, compatible Bylaws on officer structure or matters not covered here by a three-quarters vote with fourteen days notice.
Section 2. Active Membership
Active membership of a Branch or Caucus follows the same rules as the Chapter.
Section 3. Chartering
Branches or Caucuses may be chartered by a two-thirds Chapter vote with fourteen days notice. The new Branch or Caucus must elect Officers within three months.
ARTICLE VII. Voting
Section 1. Votes
Votes of the Chapter and subgroups are conducted in person at one assembly, except that the Branch meetings collectively shall be treated as a Chapter assembly, and that the Chapter or subgroup may adopt additional rules, including rules that provide for absentee or online voting.
Each member shall have an equal vote. No member may vote at more than one Branch in a 60-day period, or vote at South Bay DSA within 60 days of voting at another Chapter of DSA. No member may vote in elections of more than one Branch in a 60-day period, except that members may freely change their Branch affiliation one time ahead of the Officer elections each March.
Section 2. Issue Endorsements
The Chapter and its Branches, Caucuses, and Working Groups may endorse statements, issues, or legislation by a two-thirds vote, but should seek to avoid contradictory positions.
Section 3. Candidate Endorsements
The Chapter may endorse candidates for external office by a three-quarters vote.
Branches may endorse local (as determined by the Chapter Committee) candidates by a three-quarters vote, which the Chapter shall not override. The Branch may ask the Chapter to vote on seconding the endorsement, which is required if Chapter resources are to be used.
If time allows, the Chapter or Branch shall convene an Endorsements Committee to study the endorsement and solicit information, e.g. through a candidate questionnaire or invited speakers. Candidate endorsements may not be added to any Consent Agenda.
Section 4. Required Notice and Timely Endorsements
Endorsement votes require fourteen days notice. A steering body may make timely endorsements (except of candidates) by unanimous consent, after soliciting member input.
Section 5. Conflicts of Interest
Members shall abstain from voting on matters which place them in a conflict of interest.
ARTICLE VIII. Elections
Section 1. Election Method
Elections shall use Single Transferable Vote tallying (Scottish STV or a method approved by the Chapter). 50% of seats (rounded down to a whole number) in an election are reserved for members that do not self-identify as men (“non-men”). Results shall be calculated as follows:
- Let S equal the seat number to be filled. Let T equal the threshold number reserved for non-men. Let R equal the remainder, S minus T.
- Voters rank candidates on a single ballot. Use STV to produce a ranking of candidates.
- From the top S candidates in the ranking, all non-men, and up to R members who self-identify as men, shall be deemed elected.
- If fewer than T non-men are elected, transfer each voter’s ranking of non-men candidates to a separate ballot. Use STV to produce a ranking of these candidates. Additional candidates are elected from the top of this list until T non-men are elected or the list is exhausted.
- If fewer than S candidates are running, or fewer than T non-men are running, nominations from the floor shall be used to fill the remaining seats, subject to simple majority approval and the minimum number of non-men, T. If this does not succeed, the seat is vacant.
Any additional rules must be set before notice is given. The nomination period must last at least fourteen days, and the election may not end before another fourteen days.
Section 2. Chairs and Co-Chairs
Any “Chair” role shall go to the first-ranked candidate from Section 1, Step II.
Any two “Co-Chair” roles (or similar) shall go to the top two candidates from Section 1, Step II, if at least one is a non-man. Otherwise, one co-chair role shall be assigned to the top candidate, and the second to the first non-man from the top S candidates in Step III, or to the top candidate from Step IV, or to the first non-man nominated in Step V.
Section 3. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies
Delegates and alternates to the DSA National Convention or State and Regional bodies shall be elected by the Chapter using the method in Section 1 (and Section 2, if DSA requests that a delegation chair or co-chairs to be selected), except that the vacancies in Section 1, Step V shall be filled by additional candidates of any gender from the Step II ranking and floor nominations.
All runners-up are eligible to be alternates, up to a maximum of 5 (or a different number voted on by the Chapter). Late nominations for alternates may be approved by a simple majority.
ARTICLE IX. Steering Bodies: Composition
Section 1. Steering Bodies
The steering bodies of the Chapter, Branches, and Caucuses are the Chapter Committee, Branch Committees, and Caucus Committees, respectively. Committee members are “Officers.” All officers must be members in good standing of South Bay DSA.
Section 2. Chapter Committee
The Chapter Committee is composed of Branch and Caucus representatives (“reps”).
Branches. The number of reps per Branch depends on the number of Branches. One Branch shall have five reps; two, four reps each; three, three reps each; four or more, two reps each. This shall include the Branch Co-Chairs, and additional reps per Branch Committee agreement.
Caucuses. Each Caucus shall have one rep on the Chapter Committee. This shall be the first-listed Co-Chair in the charter, or the first-ranked winner of the Caucus election.
Branch or Caucus Committees may send substitute reps per internal agreement. Additional Branch or Caucus Officers are non-voting Observers on the Chapter Committee.
Section 3. Chapter Co-Chairs
The Chapter Committee shall appoint two Branch reps as Co-Chairs by consensus or election. At least one Co-Chair shall be a member who does not identify as a man.
Section 4. Branch Committees
Branch Committees have 5 voting members, including two Co-Chairs.
Section 5. Caucus Committees
Caucus Committees have 2-5 voting members (per their charter), including two Co-Chairs.
Section 6. Appointed Chapter Officers
The Chapter Committee shall appoint a Treasurer, and may optionally appoint a Secretary. Co-Chairs of the Chapter or a Branch may not hold these roles. Appointed officers are non-voting Observers on the Chapter Committee, unless they also hold an at-large seat.
Section 7. Appointed Branch and Caucus Officers
The Officers of each Branch or Caucus may appoint an Assistant Treasurer to help the Treasurer collect and manage funds, and/or an Assistant Secretary to assist in the Secretary’s duties where they pertain to that Branch or Caucus.
Article X. Steering Bodies: Duties
Section 1. General Duties
All steering body actions are subject to review by the group. The steering body shall:
- implement the group’s decisions, and act on its behalf where immediate action is needed
- foster political education and leadership development
- organize the group’s meetings and ensure fair, democratic votes and elections
- coordinate with other parts of the Chapter, and select representation to outside groups
- support associated Committees or Working Groups and receive their reports
- authorize expenditures from the group’s funds (for expenses under $100, approval from both Co-Chairs is sufficient)
The steering body may make recommendations to the group by a two-thirds vote, which shall be placed on a Consent Agenda distributed fourteen days ahead of the group meeting.
Co-Chairs shall act as the official public spokespersons for the group.
Section 2. Chapter Committee Duties
Additionally, the Chapter Committee shall facilitate collaboration among the Branches and Caucuses and receive their reports, and communicate with the national DSA.
Section 3. Appointed Chapter Officers
The Treasurer shall have custody of group funds and manage group finances, and shall (i) present budget updates on a quarterly basis, as well as an end-of-year financial statement; (ii) authorize expenditures according to Chapter Committee direction (with prior approval if over $100), preferring contracts with union labor; and (iii) collect dues (if applicable) or donations. If a treasury is kept, it must be deposited in a local credit union, if available. Corporate donations are forbidden.
The Secretary, if appointed, shall maintain membership lists and other records, maintain internal communication channels, manage the booking of meeting venues, and facilitate the distribution of: notices for votes, meetings, and events; meeting minutes; and other communications. If no Secretary is appointed, these duties fall to the Chapter Committee.
Section 4. Meetings
The steering body may meet by mutual agreement. Members must be given four days notice; or one day in special circumstances. A quorum is required. A quorum here is defined as either one-half of voting members or two voting members, whichever number is greater. Written minutes shall be available to any active member on request.
Section 5. Records
Steering body members shall transfer official records in good condition to their successors, including minutes, sign-in sheets, membership lists. and financial records. Under no circumstance may a former Officer keep or make use of non-public official records of the steering body, except to transfer them to their successors or as agreed upon by the steering body.
Article XI. Steering Bodies: Terms, Recall, and Vacancies
Section 1. Terms
Elections shall be held in March, and terms are year-long by default. If a vacancy is filled, the new Officer serves the remainder of the term.
Section 2. Recall
A referendum for recall of an Officer may be called by a motion of no confidence put forward by five SVDSA members, and shall require a two-thirds vote with fourteen days notice.
Section 3. Vacancies
Individual vacancies may be filled by a majority vote. Otherwise, a new election shall be held for the vacant seat(s) within 45 days, following Article VIII and maintaining gender balance.
ARTICLE XII. Branch and Caucus Meetings
Section 1. Regular Meetings
Branches and Caucuses shall hold Regular Meetings at least quarterly.
Section 2. Special and Emergency Meetings
The Branch or Caucus Committee may call an Emergency Meeting on five days notice when an urgent, important matter needs deliberation, or a Special Meeting on fourteen days notice. Emergency Meetings shall only make decisions relevant to the emergency in question.
ARTICLE XIII. Chapter Meetings
Section 1. Chapter Convention
The Chapter Committee shall organize a Chapter Convention at least twice per year. The Convention shall work on strategy, education, and connecting members of different branches.
Section 2. Special and Emergency Meetings
The Chapter Committee may call Chapter-wide Special or Emergency Meetings as in XII.2, except that it may call for a Chapter-level Emergency Meeting to be held by each Branch.
ARTICLE XIV. Rules of Meetings
Agendas shall be distributed to active members at least seven days ahead of Chapter, Branch, or Caucus meetings. Such meetings reach quorum with one fifth of active members. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised are the fallback rules of meetings of South Bay DSA bodies. This means that any member may at any time move that the meeting follow Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.
ARTICLE XV. Committees and Working Groups
Section 1. Definition
South Bay DSA may charter Committees that perform a specific function (e.g., outreach, design) and Working Groups for an issue, project, or campaign (e.g., housing, healthcare).
Section 2. Charter
Members who wish to form a Committee or Working Group must propose a charter including (i) a name; (ii) whether it will report to the Chapter or a Branch; (iii) objectives; (iv) initial strategy; (v) duration; (vi) anticipated use of funds; and (vii) membership criteria. The proposed charter must also include a list of prospective members (including Co-Chairs), signed by them. For Committees, the minimum is two; for Working Groups, the minimum is five.
The new Committee or Working Group shall be chartered by a vote of the proposed supervising body with fourteen days notice of the proposed charter. The group may propose amendments to be voted on by the supervising body with fourteen days notice.
Section 3. Co-Chairs
The group shall elect Co-Chairs within six months of chartering.
Section 4. Duties
The members of a Committee or Working Group shall execute their respective body’s strategy in fulfillment of its objectives. Co-Chairs shall organize their respective body’s members, run meetings, and act as liaisons to the supervising body. Groups shall report to the supervising body membership at least once per quarter.
Section 5. Records
Committees and Working Groups shall maintain meeting minutes to be be made available to the Chapter membership, as well as membership and attendance lists. Members maintaining custody of records shall transfer them in good condition to their successors.
Section 6. Dissolution
Groups shall dissolve upon the expiration of their duration, or by a vote of of the supervising body, or by resignation or unanimous consent of the active members, transferring all assets.
ARTICLE XVI. Amendments
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of South Bay DSA, and submitted to the Chapter Committee twenty-one days in advance of the first meeting at which they are to be introduced. The Chapter Committee must provide fourteen days notice. Amendments shall be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Chapter.
ARTICLE XVII. Prohibited Activity
South Bay DSA shall not engage in activity prohibited by law, the DSA Constitution and Bylaws, or resolutions of the DSA National Convention or National Political Committee. Any action in contravention of these Bylaws taken by an officer or member of the Chapter, or by any committee or assembly of the Chapter or its Branches, is null and void.
ARTICLE XVIII. Dissolution
If South Bay DSA dissolves, all remaining funds and assets shall be released to DSA.
ARTICLE XIX. Ratification
These Bylaws must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of a meeting of each existing Branch to initially take effect, in addition to any requirements in the prior bylaws (unless suspended).