Draft Resolution on Staff, Contractors, and Budgeting

Whereas, DSA in 2024 faced an initial projected deficit of 2 million dollars.

And whereas, this deficit was resolved only through months-long, frequently vitriolic debate over budgetary priorities and extensive budget cuts which touched nearly every aspect of DSA’s work.

And whereas, the National Convention has in the past failed to provide meaningful guidance to the NPC on budgetary priorities by passing resolutions with conflicting mandates for prioritization, authorizing expenditures vastly in excess of the resources available to DSA, and the assignment of resources like staff time to projects without a clear vision for their specific use.

And whereas, DSA’s budgeting is complicated by the existence of the National Convention, one of our largest recurring expenditures, which occurs only every other year, causing large spikes and drops in year-to-year expenditure.

And whereas, the conflict over the 2024 and 2025 budgets was exacerbated by repeated breakdowns of communication between the staff union and the NPC.

And whereas, DSA’s director-level staff have a demonstrated sense of solidarity with bargaining unit staff.

And whereas, DSA’s staff understandably have an analysis of DSA’s structure and function informed by their own unique position in it, and the conflict over the 2024 and 2025 budgets has generally aligned the interests of bargaining unit and director-level staff, despite their formal separation in DSA’s structure.

And whereas, the National Convention has frequently attempted to create new staff positions without a complete understanding of the existing staff structure of DSA or a clear vision for their job duties, leading the NPC to ignore many hiring requests made by the Convention in favor of requests made by prior director-level staff.

And whereas, in the course of the conflict over the 2024 and 2025 budgets, the right of DSA’s rank-and-file members to perform work on behalf of DSA has been called into question.

And whereas, DSA has in the past spent frivolously on an external contractor charging rates well in excess of the cost of an additional staff member for a role initially intended to be filled by a member of DSA’s staff.

And whereas, rank-and-file DSA members and even Convention delegates are not always aware of the full scope or functions of DSA’s staff, which limits the degree to which membership can exercise meaningful democratic oversight over the national organization.

And whereas, DSA has in the past hired to a degree which we lacked the financial stability to confidently maintain over the long term.

And whereas, DSA’s financial situation is significantly influenced by the external political situation in the United States, over which we have limited control.

And whereas, for DSA to provide stable employment and stable access to organizing resources under these circumstances requires a degree of financial caution beyond what would normally be found in a 501c non-profit.

Therefore be it resolved, that DSA adopts the following reserve policies:

  • DSA should seek to have 8 months of operating expenses in reserve.
  • If DSA’s reserves reach 6 months of operating expenses, an automatic budgeting process will be triggered with the goal of restoring positive net cash flow within 3 months.

Be it further resolved, that DSA adopts the following policies regarding staffing:

  • Staff expenditure, excluding full time paid leadership, should generally not exceed 40% of DSA’s recurring income.
  • Total staff expenditure, including full time paid leadership, should generally not exceed 60% of DSA’s recurring income.
  • The NPC may not create any new staff position which would cause staff expenditure, excluding full time paid leadership, to exceed 50% of DSA’s recurring income, and if staff expenditure exceeds 50% of DSA’s recurring income a hiring freeze will automatically go into effect.
  • All direct employees of DSA, including full time paid leadership, should have job descriptions published in a manner accessible to the general membership of DSA.
  • DSA should generally avoid contracting out or hiring additional staff for functions which could be performed by rank-and-file DSA members.
  • No external contractor may be hired for a continuous, long term, full time position which could be filled by an employee of DSA or paid political leader. External contractors should only be hired for functions with sporadic or unpredictable workloads, time-limited functions, or functions with workloads that are sufficiently small that employing a contractor would be substantially cheaper than hiring a direct employee of DSA for the same task.

Be it further resolved, that the above policies are intended primarily to limit hiring, and should not be used as sole justification for a reduction in existing staff expenditure.

Be it further resolved, that DSA is not only member-led but member-run. The National Convention recognizes the essential role of rank-and-file members in organizing DSA at every level.

Be it further resolved, the NPC is instructed to seek explicit acknowledgement of the right of rank-and-file members to perform work in DSA in all future Collective Bargaining Agreements with the DSA Union.

Be it further resolved, that the National Political Committee is prohibited from adopting any contract with any party which would categorically bar rank-and-file DSA members from an area of work in the national organization, though it retains the authority to determine the division of labor between staff and rank-and-file members within national DSA and the specific conditions under which members may have access to DSA resources and member information.

Be it further resolved, that the NPC is primarily responsible for the management of DSA’s staff, and that future Convention rules should prohibit the creation of specific new staff positions via a member-submitted resolution.

Be it further resolved, that the NPC will investigate changes to DSA’s management structure which would permit as many employees as possible, excluding paid political leadership, to be included in the DSA Union bargaining unit, and will implement any such changes if feasible.

Be it further resolved, that the DSA Union may select a permanent, non-voting observer to represent them on the NPC and facilitate communication between the NPC and the staff union. This observer will be entitled to access all debate and information to which the full NPC is entitled access, but will also be bound by the confidentiality rules of the full NPC, unless waived by a motion of the NPC.

Be it further resolved, that DSA adopts the following policies and standing rules regarding budgeting:

  • The NPC will present draft budgets to all future National Conventions for debate, amendment, and ratification.
  • At least one full debate block will be allocated to the debate, amendment, and ratification of the draft budget at all future National Conventions.
  • Any resolution calling for spending in excess of 50,000 dollars not included in the proposed draft budget must be accompanied by an amendment to the draft budget accounting for that spending, which may be approved, amended, or rejected independently of the underlying political content of the resolution.
  • Resolutions calling for new spending of less than 50,000 dollars may be considered as single resolutions, separate from the budget process, but passage of such a resolution should still cause the draft budget to be amended to reflect any such spending.
  • Budgets passed by the Convention may be amended by the NPC to account for changes in DSA’s financial situation, organizing needs, or the external political situation.
  • Changes to the budget by the NPC should not disregard the basic political intent of the Convention’s budgetary decisions.

Be it finally resolved, that the NPC will investigate the feasibility of moving to a biennial budgeting process, and will implement one if feasible.