Constitution & Bylaws of the Capital District Democratic Socialists of America
[Adopted March 26, 2017. Amended February 2, 2018]
ARTICLE I. Name, Territory.
Section 1 – Name. The name of the Chapter shall be the Capital District Democratic Socialists of America, a not-for-profit corporation, hereinafter referred to as “the Chapter,” or “Capital District DSA.”
Section 2 – Territory. The Chapter shall conduct activities in the greater Capital District, defined as Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Fulton, Montgomery, Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Greene, and Columbia Counties, by the charter granted by the national Democratic Socialists of America to Capital District DSA.
ARTICLE II. Purpose & Mission.
The purpose of Capital District DSA shall be to organize the activities of the members of the Democratic Socialists of America within the Albany region. These activities shall include, but not be limited to: social events, political education, and advocacy and action for socialist causes.
We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination such as that based on race and sex, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are socialists because 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 are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision, for building a majority movement that will make democratic socialism a reality in America. We believe that such a strategy must acknowledge the class structure of American society and that 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 – Definition. Members of Capital District DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, are in good-standing and, who reside in the defined territory. Proof of residence within the chapter can be requested by the executive committee as part of the process outlined in Article III, Section 4. Proof of residence in the territory may consist of any of the following: a bill, a government-issued document, or the written testimony of two references who can attest to the member living openly and notoriously within the territories defined in Article I Section 2.
Section 2 – Rights and Privileges. All members in good standing of the Chapter shall have a vote on the election of Capital District DSA delegates to national DSA bodies, Capital District DSA officers and questions, and may stand for Capital District DSA office. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of Capital District DSA, 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 3 – Dues. Capital District DSA may establish chapter dues by a two-thirds vote of the membership, as per the national DSA constitution. Such dues are voluntary, for financial support only and, confer no rights or privileges.
Section 4 – Removal of Members. If a member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of national DSA, or if they are found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic, disruptive behavior, or if they are found to be under the discipline of any self-defined democratic centralist organization, Capital District DSA may vote to expel the member from DSA. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally submit written charges against the member in question to the Chapter Executive Committee, which shall review the charges to determine merit and, if necessary, set a date of a Chapter Membership 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 requires a two-thirds vote at Chapter Membership Meeting. An expelled full member may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.
ARTICLE IV. Chapter Meetings.
Section 1 – Membership Assembly. The Chapter will hold a minimum of one Membership Assembly annually, and all members of Capital District DSA will receive three weeks written or electronic mail notice and an agenda of the Membership Assembly. The Membership Assembly will elect Capital District DSA officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Chapter
Section 2 – Membership Meetings. The Chapter will hold Memberships Meetings at least three times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Executive Committee. Membership Meetings will set Capital District DSA policy and work priorities. The Executive Committee will set the agenda for Membership Meetings. In general, the Membership Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Chapter.
Section 3 – Emergency Meetings. The Executive Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Chapter 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 20 persons) is required for Membership Assemblies, Membership Meetings, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
Section 5 – Accessibility. Meetings will be held in accessible locations whenever possible. Participation via video or teleconference shall be facilitated for members with disabilities requesting an accommodation. Alternatively, members may designate another member to act as their proxy, as an accommodation, by filing a request with the Secretary.
ARTICLE V. Chapter Officers: Powers and Duties.
Section 1 – Officers and Terms. The officers of the Chapter will be the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and Communications Officer. The term of office will be two years, from April 1 to March 31, or until their successors are elected. Officers may be removed from office at the pleasure of the membership as provided in the parliamentary authority.
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 less than a year in any other Chapter office, the Chapter Executive Committee will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term. In the event of a vacancy a year or longer, there shall be nominations and an election held to fill the remainder of the term.
Section 3 – Chair and Vice Chair.
A) The Chair will be the chief executive officer of the Chapter. They will preside over 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 for the Chapter and will initiate such actions and policies as the Chapter’s general welfare may demand. In the event that the Chair is unable to perform their duties for a single event or a longer period of time, the Vice Chair will serve as replacement.
B) The Chair will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Chapter’s branches and committees.
C) The Chair will report to Chapter Membership 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) The Vice Chair will assist the Chair and, if necessary, other officers.
Section 4 – Secretary.
A) The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Chapter, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Chapter. They will insure effective communication with the national DSA. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Chair, if the Vice Chair is not able to do so.
B) The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Chapter and Executive Committee Meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Chapter. They shall transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists.
C) The Secretary will maintain and manage members-only platforms, such as, but not limited to, email listservs and private social media groups.
Section 5 – Treasurer. The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the Chapter. All funds collected by the Chapter will be turned over to the Treasurer, who shall deposit them in a bank account under the name of Capital District DSA. 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 Chapter budget, and deliver the Chapter financial report to the Membership Meeting of the Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Executive Committee of the Chapter.
Section 6 – Additional Duties. The Chapter Executive Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the 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 Chapter Executive Committee will be composed of the five officers of the Chapter, the chair(s) of Chapter Youth Sections, and the chair(s) of any Chapter Branches.
Section 2 – Duties.
A) The Executive Committee administers the affairs of the Chapter and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the Membership Assembly and Membership Meetings; it may also propose policy to the Membership Assembly and Membership Meetings. It shall have the power to receive reports of any Committee or Branch, and advise thereon; to call emergency meetings of the Chapter; and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Executive Committee is the regular executive body of the Chapter, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the Membership Assembly and Membership Meetings.
B) The Executive Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the chapter, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by members of DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Capital District DSA 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 members of the Executive Committee. All members of the Executive Committee must (ordinarily) be given four days oral or written notice of regular Executive Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances. All Chapter members in good standing may attend Executive Committee meetings as observers. The Executive Committee may meet via teleconference or electronic meeting. Minutes of Executive Committee meetings will be made available to the membership.
Section 4 – Quorum. A quorum of 60% (rounding up) of the Executive Committee is required for the transaction of Executive Committee business. Either the Chair or the Vice Chair need to be present.
ARTICLE VII. Branches.
Section 1 – Definition. A branch is a subgroup of Capital District DSA consisting of at least five members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography, work site or, constituency (e.g., labor, minority, women, LGTBQ+). The chairs of branches will hold membership on the Executive Committee.
Section 2 – Youth Sections. Branches established on secondary and postsecondary institutions and consisting of students will be called Chapter Youth Sections. Youth Sections must meet the national DSA requirements to form a Youth Section. The chairs of Chapter Youth Sections will hold membership on the Chapter Executive Committee.
Section 3 – Establishment of Branches. A Branch may be chartered at a Membership Meeting upon petition of at least five (5) members of a given constituency. A Branch may be dissolved by the Executive Committee if it has not met for at least six (6) months or if it has been promoting policies contrary to those of the Chapter or national DSA. 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 may be appealed to the next Membership Meeting of the Chapter, 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 Chapter Executive Committee.
ARTICLE VIII. Committees.
Section 1 – Duration. The Chapter will have Standing and Ad Hoc Committees, which will exist for a limited and explicit duration. Standing Committees may be established by a full vote of the membership at a Membership Meeting. Ad Hoc Committees may be established by the Chapter Executive.
Section 2 – Duties. Chairs of Committees will report to the Executive Committee and keep the Chapter informed on the activities of the committee.
ARTICLE IX. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies.
Section 1 – Convention. Chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by members of the Chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
ARTICLE X. Prohibited Activity. Capital District DSA shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501(c)4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of New York. Nor shall the Chapter 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 committee of three members shall be established at the meeting prior to an election. The committee shall solicit and receive nominations. In the case of elections to fill vacancies, the Executive Committee may appoint an Elections Committee.
Section 2 – Nominations Process. Nominations for Chapter officers and delegates to the National Convention shall be opened at least 20 days before, and closed 7 days before the Membership Assembly. The call for nominations shall be announced to members of DSA in advance of the Membership Assembly.
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 Chapter, and submitted to the Executive Committee a month in advance of a Membership Assembly or Membership Meeting. The Executive Committee is required to provide the Chapter membership with two weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a two-thirds vote at a Membership Assembly or Membership Meeting.
ARTICLE XIII. Rules of the Chapter.
Section 1 – Rules. The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall govern this 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 Chapter in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.