Bylaws of the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America
Amended November 23rd, 2019
ARTICLE I. Name.
The name of the Chapter shall be the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, a not-for-profit corporation.
ARTICLE II. Purpose
The Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America 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 solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race and sex, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.
DSA envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.
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.
The DSA recognizes the important contributions that have been made to progressive movements and the socialist cause by people motivated by religious and spiritual beliefs. We respect those beliefs and welcome those who hold them in the organization on the same basis as any member. The DSA is committed to a freedom of religion that opposes any sort of persecution or discrimination on a religious basis and that safeguards that freedom by insisting on a complete separation of Church and State.
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. 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.
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.
ARTICLE III. Membership.
Section 1. Membership.
Members of the Metro Atlanta Chapter DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in the greater metropolitan Atlanta area. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the 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 full 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, the Chapter may vote to expel them from 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 Executive Committee, which shall set the date of a 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 weeks before that meeting takes place.
Expulsion of a member or affiliate member requires a two-thirds vote at the Chapter meeting. Members may also be expelled through the due process procedures established by the harassment committee ratified by the membership. No vote of the membership shall be required in these cases. An expelled full member may appeal in either case to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Section 3. Dues.
The chapter may establish a chapter pledge system of voluntary donations for its members.
ARTICLE IV. Chapter Meetings.
Section 1. General Meeting.
The Chapter will hold a minimum of one General Meeting annually, and all members of the Chapter will receive three weeks written (or electronic mail) notice and an agenda of the General Meeting. The General Meeting will elect Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Chapter.
Section 2. Regular Meetings.
The Chapter will hold Regular Meetings at least four times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Executive Committee. The Regular Meetings will set Chapter policy and work priorities and will include political education sessions. Consensus decision-making is desirable where feasible, but meetings must submit to Robert’s Rules of Order upon the request of a member.
The Executive Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings, a draft of which will be publicized at least five days in advance. In general, the Regular 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 five percent of the members (but not fewer than ten persons) is required for Regular or Emergency Meetings to transact business. A quorum of ten percent is required for General Meetings to elect Chapter officers.
ARTICLE V. Chapter Officers: Powers and Duties.
Section 1. Officers and Terms.
The officers of the Chapter will be the Chair, Membership Secretary, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, and three members elected as at-large board members. The term of office will be one year, and shall run from October 1 to September 30 or until their successors are elected. These seven officers shall constitute the Executive Committee of the Chapter and be limited to a maximum of five white heterosexual males.
Section 2. Vacancies.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of Chair, the Membership Secretary will assume that office. In the event of a vacancy in any other Chapter office, the Executive Committee will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term.
Section 3. 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. 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 Membership Secretary 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 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. Membership Secretary.
The Membership 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 ensure effective communication with the national DSA. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Chair, if the Chair is not able to do so.
Section 5. Recording Secretary.
The Recording Secretary will be responsible 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.
Section 6. 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 the Chapter. In cooperation with the Membership Secretary, the Treasurer will be responsible for insuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will prepare the annual Chapter budget, and deliver the Chapter financial report to the General Meeting of the Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Executive Committee of the Chapter.
Section 7. Additional Duties.
The 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.
Section 8. Removal From Office.
Any officer may be recalled for nonfeasance or malfeasance by a two-thirds vote at a Chapter meeting.
ARTICLE VI. Executive Committee.
Section 1. Composition.
The Executive Committee will be composed of the seven 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 General and Regular Meetings; it may also propose policy to the General and Regular 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 General and Regular 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 full members of the Chapter, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between 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 four 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.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of four members of the Executive Committee is required for the transaction of Executive Committee business.
ARTICLE VII. Branches.
Section 1. Definition.
A branch is a subgroup of the Chapter consisting of at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography, work site, constituency (e.g., labor, minority, feminist), or area of political work (e.g., peace action, environmental movement). The chairs of branches will hold membership on the Executive Committee.
Section 2. Youth Sections.
Branches established on college campuses and consisting of students will be called Chapter Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. The chairs of Chapter Youth Sections will hold membership on the Executive Committee.
ARTICLE VIII. Working Groups.
Section 1. Working Group Formation.
Working groups are the primary engines of the membership’s activities. Members are encouraged to self-organize working groups according to published criteria set by the executive committee. Working groups will be held to the highest community standards of behavior and engagement. Working groups may be eliminated in their current form for inactivity, malfeasance, nonfeasance, or acting contrary to democratic and socialist ideals. When a working has been created, it continues its work until the Executive Committee decides to change its purpose or eliminate it.
Section 2. Ad Hoc Working Groups.
Time-limited ad-hoc working groups can also be created that have a limited scope of activity, specific actions, and events. These groups should report to all relevant established working groups, keep them informed of activity, and incorporate feedback. In such cases, the commission statement written for such a committee shall include a non-binding date by which the committee’s authority shall end.
Section 3. Duties to the Membership
All working groups must have at least one contact person willing to stay informed of the group’s activities and report back to the executive committee and the membership in a timely manner.
ARTICLE IX. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies.
Section 1. Convention.
Chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by full members of the Chapter. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
ARTICLE X. Code of Conduct.
Section 1. Prohibited Activity.
The Metro Atlanta DSA shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501 © 4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of Georgia. Nor shall the Chapter engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
Section 2. Harassment Policy.
The Chapter will establish, by vote of a Meeting, a Harassment Policy that outlines the boundaries of acceptable behavior by members of the group and describes options for censure of members, including suspension. The Harassment Policy shall be made available to all Chapter members. Amendments to the Harassment Policy must be approved at a General Meeting.
ARTICLE XI. Grievance Process.
Section 1. Harassment Grievance Officer and Committee.
a) The Executive Committee will sponsor a Harassment Grievance Committee from the Chapter membership of at least three people, a majority of which should not be heterosexual males. At least one should be a person of color.
b) The Committee will choose a member of the Harassment Grievance Committee to serve as Harassment Grievance Officer. The Harassment Grievance Officer will be the primary point of contact for any grievance of the Chapter membership.
Section 2. Grievance Reporting
Any member of the Chapter or person interacting with a member of the Chapter can report their grievance to the Harassment Grievance Officer by email, phone, or in person. If they are uncomfortable contacting the Grievance Officer, they can contact another member of the Harassment Grievance Committee, and if uncomfortable about that, a member of the Executive Committee. Until the inquiry of the grievance has concluded, no particulars of the grievance shall be publicized in any way.
Section 3. Mediation
The Harassment Grievance Officer (or to whomever the submitter of the grievance reported the incident) will attempt to meet with all parties involved in order to determine whether the grievance can be mediated, and if so, attempt to mediate. If this fails within 30 days of the report, than it will move on to a hearing.
Section 4. Hearing
If mediation fails, the Harassment Grievance Committee will create a three-person panel of non-interested parties from the Harassment Grievance Committee and/or Chapter membership which will contact the parties involved and set a place and time to conduct a hearing on the grievance. The panel will accept evidence from all parties, as well as conduct interviews, and then decide based on the preponderance of evidence a course of action as defined in the Harassment Policy of the Chapter, which has been ratified by the Chapter membership as defined in Article X, section 2.
ARTICLE XII. Nominations and Recalls.
Section 1. Nominations Committee.
A three-person Nominations Committee shall be established at least one month prior to every election by vote of a Regular Meeting. It shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected.
Section 2. Nominations Process.
Nominations for Chapter officers and delegates to the National Convention shall be opened 10 days before and closed at the Annual Meeting. The call for nominations shall be announced to full members of the Chapter in advance of the General Meeting.
Section 3. Uncontested Positions.
If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.
ARTICLE XIII. 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 three weeks in advance of a General or Regular 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 majority vote of a Regular or General Meeting.
ARTICLE XIV. Dissolution
In the event of the dissolution of the Chapter, all remaining funds and assets are to be released to National DSA or a neighboring DSA chapter. If both the Chapter and National DSA are being dissolved, then all remaining funds and assets are to be released to such other organizations that are organized exclusively for the promotion of social welfare and that will operate to further the common good and general welfare of the community included in the Chapter’s stated boundaries.