Chapter Bylaws

 

First Drafted 5/12/17 

Adopted 7/11/17 

Amended 4/4/20

 

ARTICLE I. Name.

The name of the Local Chapter will be the Phoenix Local Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), or Phoenix DSA. DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.

ARTICLE II. Purpose.

Phoenix DSA seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means/resources of production are democratically and socially controlled. DSA rejects an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination, brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. DSA envisions a humane society based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.

Phoenix DSA will meet to discuss and ratify a Mission Statement at least once every year, the deadline for ratification of which will be one (1) month after the General Meeting. Ratification will require a vote of two-thirds at a single meeting or fifty percent plus one (1) at two (2) consecutive meetings. The Mission Statement must articulate a socialist vision in general alignment with DSA National, and it must contain explicit language that express humane, socialist stances on issues that are of particular concern to the unique, diverse communities in Phoenix, Maricopa County, and/or Arizona at large.

ARTICLE III. Membership.

Section 1. Membership.

Members of Phoenix DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full and who live in zip codes associated with our chapter. Accommodations will be made for potential members who are unable to attend events due to a disability. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of Phoenix DSA, to elect delegates to the national convention, to vote on matters related to national and local policy, and to make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of DSA.

Section 2. Removal of Members.

If a member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the central principles or policies of DSA national or Phoenix DSA, or if they are found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic or disruptive behavior, or if they are found to be under the discipline of any self-defined democratic centralist organization, the Chapter may vote to expel them from the Local Chapter of 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 Chapter Executive Committee, which will set the date of a Local Chapter 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 (2) weeks before that meeting takes place, and be able to defend themselves against the charges at a Regular Meeting. Expulsion of a member or affiliate member requires a two-thirds vote of the Local Chapter meeting. An expelled member is not allowed to vote or attend Local Chapter meetings, but may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.

Section 3. Voluntary Donations.

After formulating a baseline annual budget (to be approved at the annual General Meeting), the Treasurer will calculate a per person contribution by dividing total expenses by the Local Chapter’s member count. Donations will be collected on an anonymous, voluntary, pay-what-you-can basis. At Regular Meetings the Treasurer will report how close the Local Chapter is to meeting its per person contribution goal and total donations collected since the previous Regular Meeting. This system allows for members to contribute to the Local Chapter in a way that best fits their financial situation and for the Local Chapter to make its revenue a collective rather than individual responsibility. Any expenses that go beyond the baseline annual budget must be approved at Regular Meetings and covered by anonymous and voluntary donations. The general goal: collective decision-making, collective responsibility. As mandated by the national Constitution and Bylaws, the payment of a Local Chapter donation may not be a requirement for voting or holding Local Chapter office.

Section 4. Privacy Concerns.

Care will be taken to protect the privacy of each member’s contact information.

ARTICLE IV. Local Chapter Meetings.

Section 1. General Meeting.

The Local Chapter will hold a minimum of one (1) General Meeting annually, and all members of the Local Chapter will receive at least three (3) weeks written (or electronic mail) notice and an agenda of the General Meeting.

The General Meeting will elect Local Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, the General Meeting is the highest legislative body of the Local Chapter.

Section 2. Regular Meetings.

The Local Chapter will hold Regular Meetings at least once (1) a month, the time and place of which will be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Local Chapter Executive Committee. The Regular Meetings will set Local Chapter policy and work priorities.

The Local Chapter Executive Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local Chapter.

Section 3. Emergency Meetings.

The Local Chapter Executive Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local Chapter on five (5) 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 (6) persons) is required for General, Regular, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.

ARTICLE V. Local Chapter Officers: Powers and Duties.

Section 1. Officers and Terms

a) The officers of the Local Chapter will be the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, one (1) At-large Officer, and the chair of each existing chapter committee. The term of office will be one (1) year.

b) Officers may serve no more than two (2) consecutive full terms as a committee chair, or two (2) consecutive terms within the Executive Committee. For example, it is acceptable for an officer to serve up to two (2) consecutive full terms as a committee chair for a specific committee, followed by up to two (2) consecutive full terms on the Executive Committee, but it would be unacceptable to serve three (3) consecutive full terms within the Executive Committee.

Section 2. Vacancies.

In the event of a vacancy in the office of Chair, the Vice Chair will assume that office. In the event of a vacancy in any other Local Chapter office, the Local Chapter Executive Committee will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term.

Section 3. Chair.

a) The Chair holds the chief executive position of the Local Chapter. They will preside over Local Chapter and Executive 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, Newly Revised. The Chair will be the official public spokesperson and contact point for media inquiries for the Local Chapter and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local Chapter’s general welfare may demand.

b) The Chair will also be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and political work between Local Chapter’s caucuses and committees.

c) The Chair will report to Local Chapter Regular Meetings on the business of the Executive Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.

d) In the event that the Chair is unable to perform their duties, the Vice Chair will serve as replacement.

Section 4. Vice Chair.

a) The Vice Chair is responsible for engaging the Phoenix community on behalf of Phoenix DSA. The Vice Chair will serve as the point of contact for interested new members and will remain a resource during their integration into the Chapter. The Vice Chair is responsible for organizing outreach events and representing DSA at external events in an effort to recruit new members.

b) The Vice Chair will assist the Chair in their governing responsibilities. The Vice Chair is to assume the position of Chair temporarily or permanently if the Chair is unable to serve. In the event that the Vice Chair is unable to preside over a meeting on behalf of the Chair, the Secretary will appoint a member of the Executive Committee to serve as temporary replacement.

Section 5. Secretary.

a) The Secretary will be responsible for answering all non-recruitment related correspondence and queries of the Local Chapter, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local Chapter. They will ensure effective communication with the national DSA.

b) The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Local Chapter and Executive Committee Meetings, and will have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local Chapter. They will transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records will include meeting minutes, member attendance, and member roster.

c) The Secretary will appoint a member of the Executive Committee to temporarily assume responsibilities of the Chair, if the Vice Chair is not able to do so.

Section 6. Treasurer.

The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the Local Chapter. All funds collected by the Local Chapter will be turned over to the Treasurer, who will deposit them in a bank or credit union account under the name of the Local Chapter. In cooperation with the Secretary, the Treasurer will be responsible for ensuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will prepare the annual Local Chapter budget, and deliver the Local Chapter financial report to the General Meeting of the Local Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Executive Committee of the Local Chapter.

Section 7. At-large Officer.

The At-large Officer will assist with the executive functions of the chapter and have the same voting power as the other Executive Committee officers. The Local Chapter Executive Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the Local Chapter, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.

ARTICLE VI. Executive Committee.

Section 1. Composition.

The Local Chapter Executive Committee will be composed of five (5) specific officers of the Local Chapter: the chapter Chair, the chapter Vice Chair, the chapter Secretary, the chapter Treasurer, and the At-large Officer.

Section 2. Duties.

a) The Executive Committee administers the affairs of the Local Chapter and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the General and Regular Meetings; it may also propose policy and set the agenda for the General and Regular Meetings. It will have the power to receive reports of any Subcommittee or Caucus, and advise thereon, to call emergency meetings of the Local Chapter, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Executive Committee is the regular executive body of the Local Chapter, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the General and Regular Meetings.

b) The Local Chapter Executive Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Local Chapter, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by members of Phoenix DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Local Chapter meetings.

Section 3. Meetings.

The meetings of the Executive Committee will be held at the call of the Chair at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Executive Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three (3) members of the Executive Committee. All members of the Executive Committee must (ordinarily) be given four (4) days oral, written, or electronic notice of regular Executive Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under emergency circumstances.

Section 4. Quorum.

A quorum of three (3) members of the Executive Committee is required for the transaction of Executive Committee business.

ARTICLE VII. Committees.

Section 1. Definition.

A Committee is tasked with specific responsibilities and functions as decided at Regular or General Meetings of the Chapter or Executive Committee meetings. A Committee is either a Standing Committee or a Special Committee. A Standing Committee is a more permanent committee that is essential to the mission of the Chapter. A Special Committee is more temporary and defined by a task or set of tasks.

Section 2. Formation.

A Committee proposal must be submitted to the Executive Committee and must state a) whether the proposed Committee is a Standing or a Special Committee and b) the duration of the proposed Committee’s existence. Committees are established by a majority vote at a Regular or General Meeting of the Chapter or an Executive Committee meeting; they are dissolved by a ⅔ majority vote at a Regular or General Meeting of the Chapter or an Executive Committee meeting. Upon formation, the committee chair will be appointed by the EC to fill the position until the next general chapter meeting, at which point all committee chair positions will be filled by elections.

Section 3. Duties.

Chairs of the Committees will keep the Executive Committee and the Chapter membership informed of the activities of the committee.

ARTICLE VIII. Caucuses.

Section 1. Definition.

A Caucus is a subgroup of the Local Chapter consisting of at least five (5) members in good standing with national DSA. New caucuses will be approved by the Executive Committee, after which they will be self-governed. The Executive Committee may vote to dissolve a Caucus if it found to be in violation with the principles of the Local Chapter or DSA National. Caucuses may be defined by geography, work site, constituency (e.g., labor, minority, feminist), function, or area of political work (e.g., peace action, environmental movement).

Section 2. Youth Sections.

Caucuses established on college campuses or consisting of students will be called Local Chapter Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least three (3) members in good standing with national DSA.

ARTICLE IX. Immediate Action Group.

Section 1. Duration.

The Local Chapter will have Immediate Action Groups, which will exist for a limited and explicit duration. Immediate Actions Groups may be established by a vote of members at a Regular Meeting of the Local Chapter.

Section 2. Duties.

Chairs of Immediate Action Groups will keep the Executive Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local Chapter informed on the activities of the Immediate Action Group.

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

Section 1. Convention.

Local Chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by members of Phoenix DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation will be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.

ARTICLE XI. Prohibited Activity

Phoenix DSA will not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501(c)(4) organizations or similar rules established by the state of Arizona. Nor will Phoenix DSA engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.

ARTICLE XII. Elections, Nominations, and Recalls.

Section 1. Nominations Committee

A three (3)-person Nominations Committee will be established at least one (1) month prior to every election by vote of a Regular Meeting. The members of the Nominations Committee may not be a candidate for office. It will solicit and receive nominations for Local Chapter officers. Self-nominations or other-nominations will be announced to the whole Local Chapter via the email announcements list. These nominations should include a paragraph about the candidate explaining why they would be good for the position. The Nominations Committee will collect these announced nominations and form a ballot for the General Meeting.

Section 2. Nominations Process.

Nominations for Local Chapter officers and delegates to the National Convention will be opened at the Regular Meeting when the date of the General Meeting is announced and closed a week before the General Meeting. Nominations from the floor will not be accepted.

Section 3. The First Election.

When Phoenix DSA is first formed and approved by the national DSA, the date of the first General Meeting will be set. At this first General Meeting, the month of all future General Meetings will be decided by vote. The officers elected at the first General Meeting will serve until the decided upon next General Meeting, which may be for less than one (1) year.

Section 4. Elections of Officers.

a) Voting Process: Elections will be held for all Local Chapter officer positions, including each seat on the Executive Committee and the chair of every other existing committee. The Nominations Committee should encourage a diverse group of candidates for each of these positions. Elections will be carried out using ranked choice voting with instant run-off. Candidates may simultaneously run for and sit on both the EC and a committee chair position, provided they are not violating the rules for term limits.

b) Vote by Proxy: If a Phoenix DSA member cannot attend the General Meeting, they may designate another Local Chapter member to be their proxy by contacting the Nominations Committee. A member may only hold one (1) signed proxy for another member and vote for that member at the General Meeting.

Section 5. Uncontested Positions.

If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.

Section 6. Recalls

All members in a standing position of trust or responsibility within any general (not caucus-specific) body of the chapter, with any degree of standing power or duties, will be susceptible to recall at any time. This is to include not only elected positions but any and all appointed positions, executive and non-executive committee members, etc.

This recall may be initiated by the submission of a demand to both the EC and the general membership, co-sponsored by 5 or more members in good standing, at least 1 month prior to a regular meeting at which the recall vote will take place. The demand for recall must include reasoning but does not have to meet any pre-established standard of sufficient reason for recall.


If these members were in good standing before submitting the demand, they are protected from being removed from the chapter until after the resolution of the recall vote, in order to protect them from retaliation.

The demand for a recall vote may target any number of members, but if it targets more than 1 then the votes must be cast for each member separately, and the results withheld until all votes have been cast. The votes must be done by secret ballot, and any member in attendance at the regular meeting may vote.

The vote to recall is successful if passed by a 2/3 majority. The replacement for any recalled member is to be made by appointment by the EC, unless a motion at the same regular meeting as the recall vote is made, seconded, and passed by simple majority to hold a special election instead, which would then follow the rules for a special election. Any member replacing the recalled member will then fill the remainder of any term associated with the position.

ARTICLE XIII. Amendments.

Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five (5) members of Phoenix DSA, and submitted to the Executive Committee a month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Executive Committee is required to provide the Local Chapter membership with two (2) weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a two-thirds vote of two (2) consecutive (Regular or General) Local Chapter meetings.

ARTICLE XIV. Rules of the Local Chapter.

Section 1. Rules.

The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, will govern this Local Chapter in cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these Bylaws. Consensus decision-making is desirable where feasible, but meetings must submit to Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised upon the request of a member.

Section 2. Action Out of Order.

Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local Chapter in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.