Provisional New Chapter By-Laws Amendment

By Jeremy Gong, Adam Goldman and Natalie Midiri

 

Note: on July 25th, we submitted an amendment to this proposal. Under the amended version, new chapters would still automatically adopt the standard bylaws, but would be able to amend them at any point, rather than having to wait 6 months. You can see the amendment here.

A constitutional amendment requiring new chapters to provisionally adopt a Standard New Local Constitution for their first 6 months so they can establish a baseline of internal organization and leadership before going through the tedious process of drafting new bylaws. Currently, the national provides sample bylaws but cannot require that chapters adopt them instead of writing new ones. This has resulted in several new Organizing Committees opting to write new bylaws, and then getting pointlessly embroiled in the process before they can get to work organizing.

This amendment will make it easier for new chapters to form without having to go through a tedious and potentially alienating experience surrounding the drafting of new bylaws.

Forcing Organizing Committees to write bylaws as their first official act together in order to form a chapter risks draining the energy and excitement that led to the formation of the OC; selecting for litigative and argumentative personalities (often white collar professionals and/or hardened “activist-ists”) and selecting against people who want to do real organizing in communities, build the chapter, or do any other meaningful work; isolating new members who do not have pre-existing relationships in DSA, and chapters without formal or informal leadership structures, in potentially contentious situations; leaving important decisions around bylaws to new members who might never have participated in an organization like DSA before, or even known what bylaws were; and wasting time.

This amendment will allow new chapters to form and get right to work; and then after a short period of time, once the chapter’s members have gotten to know each other, affirmed their commitment to DSA and the real organizing work that is possible as a socialist organization, and built networks of support outside of their chapter, they can write new bylaws that better suit them than the Standard New Local Constitution.

 

ORIGINAL LANGUAGE (BYLAWS)

(language amended is underlined)

Article III. Locals

Section 1. Charters may be granted to Locals upon submission of an application which contains a statement of agreement with the principles and policies of the organization, a description of the geographic area to be served by the Local, a proposed Constitution for the Local and the signatures of 15 or more people who are members of the organization and who wish to be members of the Local, except that in special circumstances, charters may be granted to Locals submitting applications with 10 to 14 signatures. Special circumstances are defined to include the establishment of Locals in areas of low population.

Section 2. Each Local shall, as stated in Section 1 of this Article, submit to the National Office a file copy of their Constitution (and any subsequent changes therein). Such Constitution shall contain provisions which call for at least two meetings per year of the Local. It shall contain provisions for the election of officers of the Local. It shall contain provisions for informing all members of meetings and procedures for the election of officers and delegates to National, Regional and State bodies and of decisions of the Local. Each Local shall submit to the National Office information about the financial status of the Local.

Section 3. Groups of five or more members in a geographic area may become Organizing Committees upon approval of the NPC. Such Committees may become Locals upon attainment of the requirements described in Section 1 of this Article. Such Organizing Committees shall receive from the National Office information relevant to the formation of a Local, including criteria for chartering, a model Constitution and such guidelines for Local work and policy as are adopted by the NPC.

 

NEW LANGUAGE (BYLAWS)

Article III. Locals

Section 1. Charters may be granted to Locals upon submission of an application which contains a statement of agreement with the principles and policies of the organization, a description of the geographic area to be served by the Local, and the signatures of 15 or more people who are members of the organization and who wish to be members of the Local, except that in special circumstances, charters may be granted to Locals submitting applications with 10 to 14 signatures. Special circumstances are defined to include the establishment of Locals in areas of low population.

Section 2. The NPC shall produce a Standard New Local Constitution by which all newly chartered Locals shall operate for at least the first six months of their operation. During those six months, new Locals shall elect leadership in accordance with the New Local Constitution. After six months, the Local’s members may vote to ratify a new Constitution, at which time the Local shall submit to the National Office a file copy of their Constitution (and any subsequent changes therein). Such Constitution shall contain provisions which call for at least two meetings per year of the Local. It shall contain provisions for the making constitutional amendments, wherein all amendments shall require at least a two-thirds vote by the Local’s members. It shall contain provisions for the election of officers of the Local. It shall contain provisions for informing all members of meetings and procedures for the election of officers and delegates to National, Regional and State bodies and of decisions of the Local. Each Local shall submit to the National Office information about the financial status of the Local.

Section 3. Groups of five or more members in a geographic area may become Organizing Committees upon approval of the NPC. Such Committees may become Locals upon attainment of the requirements described in Section 1 of this Article. Such Organizing Committees shall receive from the National Office information relevant to the formation of a Local, including criteria for chartering, and such guidelines for Local work and policy as are adopted by the NPC.