Endorsement of DSA Accountability Sample Chapter Bylaws

- Caucus Statement

At the end of December, we published a statement criticizing a draft sample chapter bylaws document. We were pleased that the NPC extended the timeline for the new sample bylaws. We are now ready to endorse an alternative document put forth by the DSA Accountability Task Force, which addresses the concerns we had with the previous document.

To contrast this new document with the previously proposed sample bylaws, each of the 15 substantive criticisms in our December statement have been addressed:

  1. The steering committee is subordinate to membership meetings, and frequent membership meetings are required. (Article VI Section 2)
  2. The provisions for committees and caucuses allow for initiative from the rank and file without approval from the steering committee, and the provisions for branches allow for large chapters to separate into groups of manageable size. (Articles XIII and IX)
  3. There is a provision for recall of elected positions, as well as an optional provision to recall the entire steering committee. (Article XI Section 4)
  4. Names for positions and groups avoid replicating capitalist or patriarchal nomenclature.
  5. The sample bylaws include provisions for proxy voting, where permitted, and online voting, to enable members who may not be able to attend meetings in person to participate in decision-making. (Article IV Sections 5 and 6)
  6. Expulsion of a member requires a hearing and a membership vote. (Article III Section 2)
  7. Regular meetings are required to be held on a schedule, with additional notice for the leadership election meeting. (Article IV Sections 1 and 2) Special Meetings may be called by membership petition (Article IV Section 3), and Steering Committee meetings may be called by Steering Committee members other than the Co-Chairs (Article VI Section 3).
  8. A provision for quorum at general meetings is in place to protect the membership from changes approved at a meeting few are able to attend. (Article IV Section 4)
  9. “Steering Committee” is the standard name for the elected leadership, and a footnote suggests an alternative, “Coordinating Committee”, which reflects a more bottom-up approach we prefer. (Article VI)
    The Steering Committee nominations process is open and member-driven. (Article XI. Section 1)
  10. Decisions by the Steering Committee require approval of a majority of the entire Steering Committee (Article VI Section 4)
  11. The committee establishment and committee leadership selection process is member-driven. (Article VIII Sections 1 and 2)
  12. Only the powers explicitly required by law are additionally granted to members of the “Board of Directors”, which is explicitly described as existing only for compatibility with law. (Article VI Section 5)
  13. No provision for hiring staff exists.
  14. The bylaws amendment process is member-driven. (Article XII)

We urge the NPC to adopt this document as the official DSA sample chapter bylaws at the April NPC meeting, and we encourage all members of DSA to lobby the NPC to do so.