LSC Recommendations on NPC Resolutions & Constitution & Bylaws Changes.

- Caucus Statement

Resolution No. 1 – State Organization

  • NPC Comments: "Commit to building our power and organization at the state level and adopt standardized bylaws for state organizations." "The DSA Constitution and Bylaws currently allow for state and regional organizations. To support chapters in the creation of state organizations the NPC recommends the creation of state organizations for those states interested in greater political coordination at the state level. To support chapters doing this the NPC has created a state organization bylaws template, guidance on fundraising for staff, and guidance around political interventions that can be made at the state level. As well as infrastructure for state organizations and developing organizations to work together."
  • External Strategy & Convention (ES&C) WG Comment: This proposal simplifies the process for forming state organizations while prioritizing them over regional organizations in the interest of legislative organizing. It also adopts standardized bylaws for these organizations. (We would need to evaluate the extent to which these prospective model bylaws replicate the limitations of the California DSA process driven by centralizing factions.)
  • ES&C WG Recommendation: Neutral
  • LSC Decision: Neutral

Resolution No. 2 - Growing Staff Proposal

  • NPC Comment: "Establish a multi-year staffing plan based on membership growth goals" "At the 2019 convention many proposals were passed calling for additional staff. Over the last two years DSA has added a number of important staff positions but we have not been able to meet the mandate set to us by these 2019 convention resolutions. The NPC agrees with the need for additional staff and for this reason we propose the creation of a detailed staff development plan to be implemented over the coming five years to grow our staff in a manner reflective of unions or international political parties. This will require substantial resources, and if this is passed we would need DSA members to be a key part of supporting this expansion through increased dues, donating portions of income to DSA, or other means that socialist groups and unions have used to fund their organizing."
  • Comment: This proposal would move the DSA toward a cadre-style funding system to deal with the cost of current priorities. It may be similar to what we see in viable parliamentary parties throughout the global north and south.
  • ES&C WG Recommendation: Neutral/Qualified Opposition
  • LSC Decision: Neutral

Resolution No. 3 - Adopt standardized guidelines for national committees and working groups

  • NPC Comment: "Adopt standardized guidelines for national committees and working groups" "To help address the standing problems and opportunities of the Campaigns Council the NPC is putting forward the following proposal that we believe will clarify the roles and responsibilities of national committees and create better opportunities for cross organization collaboration."
  • Comment: This facilitates the role of the NPC on chaired and unchaired committees and their power to require adherence to recruitment and outreach, regular communication with the NPC, and organizing plans. They institute oversight over committees and working groups that are non-responsive or acting autonomously or undemocratically. Chaired committees will have 1-2 NPC members vote as members of the SC, have higher priority before the NPC, and include priority campaigns.There is a notice requirement for designating chaired status for a committee, a requirement to follow bylaws, and coordination with non-chaired committees about the meaning of liaison status. There will be a pre-NPC Quarterly Meeting of the Council Committee to coordinate strategy. It is not clear how this applies to working groups rather than committees but the proposal will help limit WGs as leadership cadres and fiefdoms.
  • ES&C WG Recommendation: Critical Support
  • LSC Decision: No Recommendation

Resolution No. 4 - Update the national grievance process

  • NPC Comment: "Update the national grievance process." "The National Grievance Officers recommended the following updates/improvements to Resolution 33 in four specific areas: confidentiality, retaliation, harmonizing Resolution 33 with chapter expulsion processes and bylaws provisions, and integrating the National Code of Conduct with Resolution 33 and chapter codes of conduct and bylaws provisions to the national grievance process. The NPC adopted these recommendations as their own and are making them to the 2021 convention."
  • Comment: This resolution appears to centralize what is already a legalistic procedure--complete with language drawn from employment law and internal appeals procedures--that parallels institutional/corporate HGO processes, increase confidentiality and retaliation requirements, limit local power of expulsion, and conflict in part with 2019 - Res. 28. There is a proposed amendment that would preserve the power of members but needs significantly more signatures. These processes have notably been poorly administered through an ad-hoc arbitral-type procedure and weaponized against ideological adversaries and it is unclear whether the resolution would prevent or intensify these problems. The resolution separates harassment and non-harassment conduct while requiring codes of conduct at the chapter level to facilitate policing non-harassment conduct. There is an effort to preserve voluntary mediation and restorative justice procedures.
  • Amendment - Let Chapters Expel People: This would preserve local power and autonomy to expel members permanently.
  • Amendment - HGO Reforms: Empowers National Grievance Committee to make recommendations, eliminates conflict between Res. 28 (on consent agenda) and these changes in the NPC Recommendation by striking significant language (Sections A-B) while preserving or adding language allowing for local and national HGO procedure synergy, non-harassment grievances, and appeals processes.
  • ES&C WG Recommendation: Strong Opposition
  • LSC Decision: Strong Opposition

CB Change A - Chapter Affiliation Agreements

  • NPC Comment: "Adopt Chapter Affiliation Agreements that standardize the rights and responsibilities of chapters and National DSA." "This document contains a proposed set of Chapter Affiliation Agreements between DSA and our local chapters drafted by the 2019-2021 National Political Committee and national staff in response to a series of governance, legal, and democratic dynamics experienced during our term. Following input from local leaders on a chapter leaders call in May, the NPC plans to recommend some version of this agreement in our report to the 2021 National Convention along with a group of related Constitution and Bylaws changes that would be necessary to operationalize the agreements in the organization. The main purpose of this agreement is to ensure that DSA and our affiliated chapters are working in partnership towards our vision of a democratic socialist future with a clear expectation of each group’s role in the struggle. Additionally, the agreement establishes a baseline for good governance of chapters and expectations for national leadership in ensuring democratic norms are followed at the chapter level of the organization. For additional context, a brief summary of the main issues and pain points in the organization the agreements were drafted to address is included below..."
  • Comment: This includes a resolution on chapter bylaws (and model agreement) for new chapters that can be changed following an initial election if in accordance with national standards. It also includes a bylaws change allowing one-year trusteeship and bylaws imposition on new chapters. The bylaws change is out of order, as with the others. These changes would allow national to impose requirements on existing chapters, allowing more national control and standardizing communication times and methods, and forcing changes to new and potentially existing bylaws (along with limits on certain types of activity) as well as new ones. The primary motivators may be driven by DSA lawyers and include umbrella tax exemptions under the Internal Revenue Code, methods for a union-style trusteeship rather than relying on the nuclear options of expelling leaders or dechartering chapters, and requirements for governance norms in newly organized chapters that include ways to restrict malfeasance ("(1) mass resignations of chapter leaders; (2) misuse of organizational funds; (3) refusal to comply with national policies or laws") and non-feasance (unresponsiveness). This may require chapter leaders to follow strict requirements of acting in accordance with "legal" norms in a country where fundamental civil and political rights are under significant threat and therefore subject them to individual rather than corporate liability. As with other NPC CB Proposals, this CB proposal is out of order.
  • Amendment: This provides for national’s liability insurance to be extended to local officials even where chapters are separately incorporated.
  • ES&C WG Recommendation: Qualified Opposition
  • LSC Decision: No Recommendation

CB Change B - Expand the Size of the NPC

  • NPC Comments: "Amend the DSA National Constitution and Bylaws to expand the NPC and leadership capacity at the national level." "Since 2016 DSA has grown from a 6,000 member organization to nearly 100,000 members strong. We have chapters in every state in the US. Our national committees, campaigns, working groups, and commissions organize massive projects but our National Political Committee attempts to steer all of this with too few people, too few resources, and not a lot of structural connections to other parts of the organization. To try and address this we should expand the size of the NPC to twenty five at-large members and two YDSA representatives, each with a vote. Resulting in twenty seven total votes on the NPC. Why twenty five At Large NPC representatives? This adds nine At Large representatives to the NPC. Increasing the number of At Large representatives increases the number of people who can participate in coordinating DSA work, build relationships with chapters, and help run national work, while still maintaining a manageable size for travel and coordination. Why two Youth Section representatives? YDSA co-chairs currently participate in the NPC Steering Committee and general NPC meetings. They have one vote for the two of them. This proposal would allow for each YDSA rep to have their own vote. The DSA bylaws currently state that “the at-large members of the NPC shall be liaisons to the Commissions, Regions, State and Local Organizations.” Over the coming years the NPC will work to adapt it’s structure from one made up by a majority of At Large members to one that interacts more holistically with state, region, or local organizations. The appropriate way to do this will be laid out as these state, regional, and local organizations come into existence. These changes would be voted on at the 2021 convention and then go into effect at the 2023 conventions."
  • Comment: This provides for a resolution and bylaws change that implements the bylaws following a 2021 vote in 2023. The size of the NPC would be increased from 16 to 25 with 2 YDSA votes on the expanded NPC (with diversity and gender inclusion requirements to match) and this may increase capacity and the ability to engage in oversight of chapters and national and regional bodies as new state organizations come into effect.
  • ES&C WG Recommendation: Strong Support
  • LSC Decision: Strong Support

CB Change C - Articles of Incorporation

  • NPC Comments: "Updates to the DSA Articles of Incorporation." "DSA’s lawyers reviewed our current Articles of Incorporation and identified a number of issues that were out of order with our current practices. They recommend the following changes and the NPC adopted them as their own to make to the 2021 convention."
  • Comment: The changes are relatively technical ones that bring the AOI into compliance with the constitution and bylaws. The AOI change may be in order but not any CB changes.
  • ES&C WG Recommendation: Critical Support
  • LSC Decision: Critical Support

CB Change D - Clean Up By-Laws and Constitution

  • NPC Comment: "Clean up By-laws and Constitution to reflect current operations."
  • Comment: This mostly involves technical language although it makes the activist conference optional. This motion is technically out of order due to the lack of constitutional notice.
  • ES&C WG Recommendation: Strong/Critical Support
  • LSC Decision: No Outcome