Bylaws of the Champlain Valley, VT Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America
[As Adopted March 17, 2019]
Article I, Name.
The name of this association shall be the Champlain Valley, VT Local Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (hereby known as “Champlain Valley, VT DSA”). It shall be affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America (“DSA” and/or “national”). DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.
Article II, Purpose.
The Champlain Valley, VT Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America seeks to agitate for and 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 a capitalist economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.
DSA envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources, production, and economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships. We aim to build a movement which can replace capitalism, the current economic and social system based on class division and exploitation, with a new society based on consistent democracy, collective ownership and solidarity – socialism.
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. Our organization exists to educate and organize socialists so we can transform the labor and social movements into a force capable of liberating the working class, and humanity, by overthrowing capitalism.
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 and the world. 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 Champlain Valley, VT Local Chapter of DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, and/or Grand Isle counties. Individuals may not be members of the Local Chapter without being members of national DSA. 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 member in good standing 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, or disruptive behavior, or if they are found to be under the discipline of any democratic centralist organization, the Local Chapter may vote to expel them from the Champlain Valley, VT 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. Expulsion of a member requires a two-thirds vote of the Local Chapter meeting. An expelled member in good standing may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Section 3, Voluntary Donations.
As mandated by the national Constitution and Bylaws, the Local Chapter may establish a Local Chapter pledge system of voluntary donations for its members. The payment of a Local Chapter donation may not be a requirement for voting or for 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 for purposes of electing officers. All members of the Local Chapter will be sent notice of, and an agenda for, the General Meeting. Notice may be sent by electronic means, but individuals who have not provided an email address must be sent a paper copy or contacted by phone or text. The General Meeting will elect Local Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Local Chapter. The General Meeting may coincide with a Regular Meeting.
Section 2, Regular Meetings.
The Local Chapter will hold Regular Meetings at least four (4) times annually, 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, and they will include political education sessions.
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.
Section 5, Meeting Announcements.
General and Regular meetings shall be announced on all official social media as well as by email, phone or text at least one week prior to the meeting. Announcements shall include date, time, location, and accessibility information (such as nearest public transportation, wheelchair access to the meeting space, and the availability of accommodations such as remote attendance or translators).
Should unforeseen circumstances occur which force a meeting to be canceled (e.g., inclement weather), rescheduling information shall be distributed through the same means as Meeting Announcements at least two (2) hours before the meeting time as originally scheduled.
Article V, Local Chapter Officers: Powers and Duties.
Section 1, Officers and Terms.
The officers of the Local Chapter will be Co-Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, Event Coordinator, and a Social Media Coordinator. The term of office will be one year and will run from March to February, or until their successors are elected. No member shall hold more than one office at a time, and no member shall be eligible to serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office. The officers may not all be of the same gender identity.
Section 2, Vacancies.
In the event of a vacancy in any Local Chapter office, the Local Chapter Executive Committee will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term. Any member in good standing may volunteer for the empty position.
Section 3, Co-Chairs.
a. The Co-Chairs will be the chief executive officers 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 11th Edition. The Co-Chairs will be the official public spokespersons for the Local Chapter and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local Chapter’s general welfare may demand.
b. The Co-Chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Local Chapter’s Branches and Committees.
c. The Co-Chairs 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.
Section 4, Secretary.
a. The Secretary will be responsible for answering all 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 national DSA. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair, if neither Co-Chair is able to do so.
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 and member lists.
Section 5, 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 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 6, Event Coordinator.
The Event Coordinator will be responsible for the planning and management of Local Chapter sanctioned events. They may assign duties to members, so long as they give free, prior, and informed consent.
Section 7, Social Media Coordinator.
The Social Media Coordinator will be responsible for managing the social media communications of the Local Chapter. They may assign duties to members, so long as they give free, prior, and informed consent.
Section 8, Additional Duties.
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 the six (6) officers of the Local Chapter and the chair(s) of any Local Chapter Branches, including the Working Group and/or Ad Hoc Committee Co-Chair(s).
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 to the General and Regular Meetings. It will have the power to receive reports of any Committee or Branch, 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 in good standing of 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 one (1) of the Co-Chairs 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 special emergency circumstances.
Section 4, Quorum.
A quorum of a simple majority, including at least four (4) of the six (6) officers, is required for the transaction of Executive Committee business.
Section 5, Voting.
Each individual officer of the Local Chapter will be granted one (1) vote. Each Branch, Working Group and/or Ad Hoc Committee will be granted one (1) vote. If a member holds more than one of the aforementioned positions, they will only have one (1) vote.
Article VII, Branches.
Section 1, Definition.
A Branch is a subgroup of the Local Chapter consisting of at least five (5) members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography, language, shared interest, or membership in an institution. Branch applications must be presented to a Regular or General Meeting of the Local Chapter and approved by majority vote of the membership. The chairs of Branches will hold membership on the Local Chapter Executive Committee.
Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) chapters within the geographic area defined by a DSA Local Chapter may affiliate as a branch of that Local Chapter if it has at least five (5) members in good standing, in which case the local YDSA chapter may send a representative to the Local Chapter Executive Committee.
Section 2, Responsibilities.
Each Branch shall maintain an official membership list. The Executive Committee will, from time to time, review the status of Branches to ensure that they are in minimum compliance with the Bylaws.
Section 3, Membership.
A Branch shall define its own rules for membership in its bylaws. A Branch’s definition of its membership must be approved by the Executive Committee.
Article VIII, Committees.
Section 1, Duration and Purpose.
The Local Chapter will have Ad Hoc Committees or Working Groups, which will exist for the duration of their project. Ad Hoc Committees or Working Groups may be established by a vote of members in good standing at a Regular Meeting of the Local Chapter.
The working groups shall serve chapter members’ political interests and develop them as organizers. They shall be self-organized by chapter members.
Section 2, Meetings.
Each working group shall meet at least six (6) times per year at the discretion of that groups’ participants.
Section 3, Leadership and Duties.
Each Ad Hoc Committee and/or Working Group’s structure shall be at the discretion of its participants. Leadership positions in an Ad Hoc Committee and/or Working Group have no impact on the Champlain Valley, VT DSA leadership structure and confer no special privileges within that structure outside of the one (1) vote allowed to the Ad Hoc Committee/Working Group during an Executive Committee Meeting. Chairs of Ad Hoc Committees and Working Groups will keep the Executive Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local Chapter informed on the activities of the Committee/Working Group.
Article IX, Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies.
Local Chapter delegates and alternates who are members in good standing to the National Convention, as well as to any regional or state organizations, will be elected by members who are also in good standing of the Local Chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation will be held on the schedule announced by the national organization. Elections to regional or state organizations will be held on the schedule announced by those organizations.
Article X, Prohibited Activity.
The Champlain Valley, VT Local Chapter will not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501(c)(4) organizations or similar rules established by the state of Vermont. Nor will the Local Chapter engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
Article XI, Grievance Procedure.
It is the duty of the Executive Committee to create a safe and welcoming culture that prioritizes those who face sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination under capitalism. Members shall not engage in harassment or abuse of other members for any reason.
Harassing or abusive behavior may include, but is not limited to, 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 constituting harassment, including when such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile environment interfering with an individual’s capacity to organize within DSA.
Disputes between members of the working group may be mediated by members of the Executive Committee or by neutral parties selected by the Executive Committee who shall be approved of by all parties of the dispute. All such mediations shall be kept confidential. Mediation within the Local Chapter shall follow the procedures put forward in the Peer Mediation procedure adopted by the Local Chapter. This is the current procedure as of 2/17/2019.
A complainant’s decision to pursue mediation does not preclude the complainant from later filing a formal grievance. Complainants may request mediation by emailing [email protected]
Formal grievances and grievance investigations shall be handled by the chapterwide Grievance Officer(s). Grievance Officer(s) shall be appointed by the Executive Committee.
If a member of the Local Chapter has an outstanding grievance against them, the complainant may request to the Grievance Committee that the member be temporarily barred from all Local Chapter events. The Grievance Officer would then recommend the member’s removal from Local Chapter events to the Executive Committee until the grievance is resolved, without disclosing the private information of either party or the nature of the grievance.
The Local Chapter will follow the Harassment Policy of national DSA.
Article XII, Elections and Nominations.
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. It will solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected. Committee members cannot be running for office at the same time.
Section 2, Nominations Process.
Nominations for Local Chapter officers and delegates to the National Convention will be opened at least 10 days before and closed at the meeting at which elections take place. The call for nominations will be announced to all members in good standing of Champlain Valley, VT DSA as soon as nominations are open.
Section 3, Uncontested Positions.
If a position is uncontested, the nominee may be declared elected by acclamation.
Section 4, In-Person and Electronic Ballot.
Elections will be held by both in-person and electronic ballot. In-person ballots will be allowed at the General Meeting for all those who have not yet participated electronically. Elections will allow for a seven (7)-day electronic voting period before the General Meeting, ending at the meeting. The electronic ballot shall be managed by the Nominations Committee.
Section 5, Recall.
Any officer of the Local Chapter of DSA may be recalled for malfeasance or failure to fulfill their duties or obligations as an officer. In order to recall or remove an officer, a member in good standing must formally refer a request to remove said officer to the Local Chapter Executive Committee, which will set a date of a Local Chapter meeting for deliberations on the accused officer’s removal. The officer in question must receive written documentation of the specific reasons for the removal request and notice of the meeting a minimum of two weeks before the meeting takes place. The accused officer will be given a chance to speak in their own defense at this meeting. Removal of an officer requires a two-thirds vote of the Local Chapter meeting.
Article XIII, Amendments.
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five (5) members of the Local Chapter of DSA and submitted to the Executive Committee at least one (1) month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Executive Committee is required to provide the Local Chapter membership with at least two (2) weeks’ written or electronic notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a majority vote of two (2) consecutive (Regular or General) Local Chapter meetings. Once approved, the updated Bylaws shall be sent to National for approval.
Article XIV, Rules of the Local Chapter.
Section 1, Rules.
The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised 11th Edition, 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 11th Edition 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.
Article XV, Distribution of assets.
Upon dissolution of the organization, any residual assets shall become property of the national organization of Democratic Socialists of America.