BuxMont DSA Branch Bylaws
Bylaws of the BuxMont Branch of the Democratic Socialists of America
Date ratified: 08.30.2021
ARTICLE I. Name.
The name of the Branch will be the Bucks and Montgomery County (BuxMont), geographical branch of the Local Chapter Philadelphia Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.
ARTICLE II. Purpose.
The BuxMont Local Branch of 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, imperialist warmongering, environmental degradation, systematic discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, ability, religion, age, immigration status, 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, environmental sustainability and regeneration, all forms of social equality, and anti-oppressive relationships. We envision a just world in which the material needs of all people are met and each person is treated with dignity.
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, groups for marginalized races and genders, 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.
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 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.
Working class people in Bucks County and Montgomery County are in the throes of struggle against the ruling class of the Philadelphia suburbs. Struggle is invisibilized due to the predominant racist and classist environments fostered by white supremacist and nationalist reactionaries that threaten the most marginalized members who are fighting to survive and thrive. It is the mission of BuxMont DSA to organize the working class to struggle for socialism and resist the white supremacist colonialist cisheteropatriachal ableist capitalism that is in our midst.
ARTICLE III. Membership.
Section 1. Membership.
Members of the BuxMont DSA will be those individuals who fulfill the following criteria: (1) They are currently dues-paying members of, or have received an official dues waiver from, the national organization of The Democratic Socialists of America. Individuals may not be members of the Branch without being members of national DSA.; (2) They are listed as being in Good Standing with the organization, both nationally and locally; (3) They reside or work within either Montgomery or Bucks Counties, Pennsylvania; (4) A DSA member who lives in a bordering county of Montgomery and Bucks counties who wishes to be a member of BuxMont DSA may become a member upon the receipt of a formal letter of intention to the Steering Committee; (5) They adhere to the political principles, aims, and values as they are stated in the governing standards and rules of the Local and national.
Should a person satisfy the above criteria, they will be granted full Membership and voting rights. 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.
A member may resign from the Local Chapter and national DSA by contacting DSA’s national office.
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, disruptive behavior, or if they are found to be under the discipline of any democratic centralist organization, the Philadelphia Democratic Socialists of America (Philly DSA) Steering Committee 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 submit written charges against the member in question to the Philly DSA Harassment Grievance Officers, which will initiate the grievance process (refer to Philly DSA bylaws Article XIII Section 3). 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 Branch may establish a Branch pledge system of voluntary donations for its members. The payment of a Branch donation may not be a requirement for voting or for holding Local Branch office.
Section 4. Privacy Concerns.
Care will be taken to protect the privacy of each member’s contact information. The BuxMont DSA Slack will be audited quarterly by the Communications Secretary with help from the Steering Committee to prevent security threats.
ARTICLE IV. Local Branch Meetings.
Section 1. Conventions
The Local Branch will hold a minimum of one (1) Convention annually for purposes of electing officers. All members of the Local Branch will be sent notice of, and an agenda for, the Convention. 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 Convention will elect Local Branch officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Local Branch. The Convention may coincide with a General Meeting.
Section 2. General Meetings
The Local Branch will hold General 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 Branch Steering Committee. The General Meetings will set Local Branch policy and work priorities.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee will set the agenda for General Meetings. In general, the General Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local Chapter.
Section 3. Emergency Meetings.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local Branch on five (5) days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of 12 members is required for Convention, General, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
ARTICLE V. Local Branch Officers: Powers and Duties.
Section 1. Officers and Terms.
The officers of the Local Branch will be two Co-Chairs, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and a Media and Communications Coordinator. Beginning in December 2021, the Local Branch officers will expand to include a second Recording Secretary and a Resource Manager. The term of office will be one year, and will run from September through August or until their successors are elected. The officers may not all be of the same gender. Officers must fulfill membership requirements as stated in Article II.
Section 2. Vacancies.
Vacancies in an office of the Local will be filled in one of the following ways: (a) if more than six months remain to fulfil a term the steering committee of the Local will call for a special election by counted ballot at an assembly of the Local; (b) if less than six months remain in the term of the vacated office the steering committee may (i) appoint a qualified member to the office for the remainder of the term or (ii) allow the office to remain vacant.
Section 3. Co-Chairs.
a. The Co-Chairs will be the chief executive officers of the Local. They will preside over Local Branch and Steering 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 and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local’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’s Branches and Committees.
c. The Co-Chairs will report to General Meetings on the business of the Steering Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.
Section 4. Secretaries.
a. The Secretaries will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Local and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local Branch from the Local Chapter. They will ensure effective communication with the Philadelphia DSA Chapter and National DSA. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair, if neither Co-Chair is able to do so.
b. The Secretaries will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Local and Steering Committee Meetings and will have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local. 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. All funds collected by the Local will be turned over to the Treasurer, who will coordinate deposits with the Philadelphia DSA Treasurer. 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 budget as prescribed by the Philadelphia DSA Branch Budget Policy and deliver the Local financial report to the General Meeting of the Local, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee of the Local.
Section 6. Media and Communications Coordinator.
The Media and Communications Coordinator will be responsible for managing the social media communications and website of the Local.
Section 7. Resource Manager.
The Resource Manager assists other positions’ primary duties by handling routine emails and announcements, managing the Google calendar and drive, Zoom links, meeting spaces (in coordination Treasurer), and onboarding members (in coordination with Co-Chairs and Secretaries).
Section 8. Additional Duties.
The Local Branch Steering Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the Local, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.
ARTICLE VI. Steering Committee.
Section 1. Composition.
The Local Branch Steering Committee will be composed of the five (5) officers of the Local Branch. Beginning in December 2021, the Local Branch Steering Committee will be composed of seven (7) officers of the Local Branch.
Section 2. Duties.
a. The Steering Committee administers the affairs of the Local and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the Convention and General Meetings; it may also propose policy to the Convention and General Meetings. It will have the power to receive reports of any Committee or Working Group, and advise thereon, to call Emergency Meetings of the Local, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Steering Committee is the regular executive body of the Local, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the Convention and General Meetings.
b. The Local Branch Steering Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Local, 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 Branch meetings.
c. The Steering Committee has a fiduciary responsibility to the well being of the Branch. The Steering Committee is obligated to fulfill the leadership roles they were elected into by the Branch membership. The Steering Committee must demonstrate in every meeting and action they undertake a strong commitment to lead effectively and represent the needs and desires of the Branch membership.
Section 3. Meetings.
The meetings of the Steering Committee will be held at the call of one (1) of the Co-Chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Steering Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three (3) members of the Steering Committee. All members of the Steering Committee must (ordinarily) be given seven (7) days oral, written, or electronic notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of a simple majority is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.
ARTICLE VII. Committees.
Section 1. Standing Committees.
A standing committee is a permanent body of the branch, performing a task vital to the mission or purpose of the branch. Standing committees should have a chair, and shall keep minutes to be approved at the beginning of each subsequent meeting, and made regularly and easily available to membership. These can only be created, reformed, or removed by resolution voted on by members in good standing at a General Meeting.
Section 2. Ad Hoc Committees.
Ad hoc committees are created to carry out a specific campaign or task. Ad hoc committees should keep records of their work and decision making process but are not held to the same standard as a permanent committee. These can be created by resolution, voted on by members in good standing at a General Meeting, or by approved recommendation from a permanent committee.
ARTICLE VIII. Prohibited Activity.
BuxMont 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 Pennsylvania. 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 IX. Nominations, Elections, and Recall.
Section 1. Nominations Process.
Nominations for Local officers will be opened at least 3 weeks before and closed 1 week before the elections take place. The call for nominations will be announced to all members in good standing of BuxMont DSA as soon as nominations are open.
Section 2. Uncontested Positions.
If a position is uncontested, the nominee may be declared elected by acclamation.
Section 3. Recall.
A member of the Local Branch Steering Committee acting in any manner that is undemocratic, malfeasant, or nonfeasant indicates a failure to fulfill their duties or obligations. They may be removed by a two thirds vote of the Steering Committee. Should there be any outstanding history of this behavior made by a Steering Committee member, any member of the Branch may choose to file a grievance with the Philly DSA Harassment and Grievance Officers (refer to Philly DSA bylaws Article XIII Section 3). The Steering Committee must report any removal decision to the membership at the next General Meeting.
ARTICLE X. Amendments.
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five (5) members of the Local Branch of DSA and submitted to the Steering Committee at least 2 weeks in advance of a Convention or General Meeting. The Steering Committee is required to provide the Local membership with at least 1 week written or electronic notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a supermajority at the Convention or General Meeting.
ARTICLE XI. Rules of the Local Chapter.
Section 1. Rules.
The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised 12th Edition, will govern this Local 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 12th Edition upon the request of a member.
Section 2. Action Out of Order.
Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.
Section 3. Harassment Policy.
The Local Chapter will follow the Harassment Policy of national DSA.
ARTICLE XII. Distribution of assets.
Upon dissolution of the organization, any residual assets shall become property of the national organization of Democratic Socialists of America.