Amended November 2018
ARTICLE 1. Purpose
Tacoma & Pierce County Democratic Socialists of America seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means and resources of production are democratically owned and controlled by the workers themselves.
We reject an economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power; discrimination based on race, ability, age, gender, and sexuality; and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We envision a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, and total social equality for all the people.
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. 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 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.
We hold, like those before us, that “There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people, and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.” We assert that labor, not capital, creates all wealth and working people are entitled to all they create. We are, like those before us, for socialism because we are for humanity. And like those before us, we re-assert that “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” We are for progress, for socialism, for the struggle, and for humanity. Onward.
ARTICLE 2. Name
2.1 The name of the Local shall be Tacoma & Pierce County Democratic Socialists of America, a not-for-profit corporation. Henceforth, “Local” refers to the entire organization of Tacoma & Pierce County Democratic Socialists of America; while “DSA” refers to Democratic Socialists of America at the national level.
ARTICLE 3. Membership
3.1 Members of the Local will be those individuals whose dues to DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in the southern Puget Sound area of Washington State including Pierce County and communities nearby. It will be the responsibility of the membership to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the Local, to elect convention delegates, and to make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of DSA.
3.11 There shall be no discrimination according to race, color, creed, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, age, class, religion or any other characteristic whose disenfranchisement is in conflict with the principles of democratic socialism set forth in Article 1.
3.2 Suspension or Expulsion. Pursuant to Article III, Section 4 of the National DSA constitution, the Coordinating Committee shall have the power to suspend or expel members from the Local, or to suspend or remove officers of branches, working groups, or other other official groups of the Local. Members can be suspended or expelled if they are found to have harassed or acted violently against another member; if they are found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization; if they consistently engage in undemocratic, disruptive behavior; or if they are under the discipline of any self-defined democratic-centralist organization; and/or if a grievance is sustained against them through any grievance procedure established by the Local. Members facing suspension or expulsion must receive written notice of charges against them at least fourteen (14) days before a meeting of the Coordinating Committee and must be given the opportunity to be heard before the Coordinating Committee. A two-thirds (⅔) vote of the Coordinating Committee is required to suspend or expel a member. The Coordinating Committee will only have the power to suspend or expel a member from the Local. Only the National organization shall have the power to suspend or expel a member from the National organization. Decisions on suspension or expulsion may be appealed at any official meeting or convention of the Local. Any member may be temporarily suspended from membership or removed from officer positions in the Local, including branch, working group, and/or other official local group leadership offices, pending a grievance procedure or other investigation, without advance notice, by a two-third (⅔) vote of the Coordinating Committee, where good cause exists for such temporary suspension or removal.
3.3 The Local may establish a local pledge system of voluntary donations for its members.
ARTICLE 4. Local Meetings & Conventions
4.1 The Local Convention is the highest governing body of Tacoma & Pierce County Democratic Socialists of America. The Local Convention is open to all members of the Local in good standing. The Local Convention will be held annually in October, and all members of the Local will receive two (2) weeks written notice and an agenda in print or electronic form. The Local Convention will elect new officers to the Coordinating Committee, set policy and overall direction, and review and amend the Constitution and Bylaws of the Local as necessary.
4.11 New members will receive Local Convention voting credentials thirty (30) days after their join date. Members whose dues have lapsed within the previous six (6) months may renew their dues prior to or the day of the Local Convention and thereby restore their voting credentials.
4.2 Between Local Conventions, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local. Regular Meetings will be held at least eight times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Coordinating Committee. Regular Meetings will set policy and work priorities for the Local and will include political education sessions and reports from branches, working groups, and committees.
4.21 Mid-Year Convention. The Regular Meeting held in April will be a special meeting to elect new leadership to branches and working groups and to assess the overall work of the Local.
4.3 An Emergency Meeting may be called by the Local Coordinating Committee with five (5) days notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
4.4 A quorum of ten percent (10%) of the members, but not fewer than seven (7) persons, is required to conduct business at any meeting or convention of the Local.
4.5 Convention Delegates. Delegates to the National Convention or any other body at which delegates are necessary shall be elected by the membership at the Regular Meeting two (2) months prior to any convention or gathering. The delegate election process will conform to DSA National bylaws and the National Convention calendar.
ARTICLE 5. Titled Officers: Powers & Duties
5.1 The titled officers of the Local will be the Co-Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, Communications Officer, Education Officer, and Lead Organizer. The term of office will be one (1) year with elections held in October. Upon election, new officers will immediately assume all respective duties.
5.11 Every effort shall be made so that no more than half of the members of the Coordinating Committee shall identify as cisgender men. And every effort shall be made so that as many Coordinating Committee members as possible will reflect historically marginalized communities.
5.2 In the event of a vacancy in any Local office, the Coordinating Committee may appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term, pending majority approval and confirmation by the Local at the next Regular Meeting. Should the Local reject an appointment, per Article 7.21 of these bylaws, a special election will be called to elect a replacement to a vacant office for the remainder of its term.
5.3 Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs will be chief executive officers of the Local. They will preside over all meetings and conventions of the Local and meetings of the Coordinating Committee or will appoint substitutes to assume the powers and duties of the presiding officers as specified in Robert’s Rules of Order. The Co-Chairs will be official public spokespersons for the Local and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local’s general welfare may demand. The Co-Chairs will be responsible for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Local’s branches, working groups, and committees. The Co-Chairs will report to Local Regular Meetings on the business of the Coordinating Committee, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be made available.
5.31 There will be two (2) Co-Chairs of the Local. No more than one (1) of the two (2) Co-Chairs shall identify as cisgender men.
5.4 Secretary. The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Local. They will insure effective communication with DSA. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair, if neither Co-Chair is able to do so. The Secretary will be responsible for the taking of minutes of all Local and Coordinating 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.
5.5 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 shall deposit them in a financial account under the name of the Local. In cooperation with other officers, the Treasurer will be responsible for ensuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will prepare the annual Local budget, and deliver the Local financial report to the Local Convention, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Coordinating Committee of the Local.
5.6 Communications. The Communications Officer will be responsible for overseeing the effective internal communication of the Local and its members. They will maintain and work with volunteers to maintain email lists, a website, and social media to promote the work and mission of the Local.
5.61 The Communications Officer will chair and oversee a Communications Team, tasked with assisting the Communications Officer in their responsibilities.
5.7 Education. The Education Officer will be responsible for coordinating regular educational opportunities for the membership on democratic socialism, politics, and subjects of interest and relevance to the local. They will coordinate reading groups, presentations, and other classes for the membership.
5.8 Lead Organizer. The Lead Organizer shall be responsible for developing and implementing both internal and external organizing efforts on behalf of the Local, and work with other officers in coordinating regular new member orientations. The Lead Organizer shall work in conjunction with the other officers in maintaining up-to-date membership rolls of the Local, and taking roll of those in attendance at Regular Meetings and Conventions.
5.81 The Lead Organizer will chair and oversee an Organizing Committee, tasked with assisting the Lead Organizer in their responsibilities.
5.9 The Local Coordinating 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 6. Coordinating Committee
6.1 The Local Coordinating Committee will be composed of the seven (7) titled officers of the Local and shall announce themselves to the membership at every meeting and convention of the Local.
6.2 The Coordinating Committee shall oversee the affairs of the Local, implement the decisions of the membership, set the agenda for the meetings and conventions of the Local. It shall have the power to receive reports of any committee, branch, 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 Coordinating Committee is the regular executive body of the Local, and thus subordinate to the rank-and-file Local membership.
6.21 The Local Coordinating Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Local, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by full members of DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Local meetings.
6.22 The Coordinating Committee will appoint the Harassment and Grievance Officers of the Local for a one (1) year term, as pursuant to Resolution 33 of the 2017 DSA Convention. Appointments shall be confirmed by a majority vote of the membership at any meeting or convention of the Local.
6.3 The meetings of the Coordinating Committee will be held at the call of the Co-Chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Coordinating Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three (3) members of the Coordinating Committee. All members of the Coordinating Committee must be given four (4) days oral or written notice of regular Coordinating Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
6.4 A quorum of four (4) members of the Coordinating Committee is required for the transaction of Coordinating Committee business.
ARTICLE 7. Nominations, Elections, & Recalls
7.1 Nominations. A three-person Election Committee composed of members of the Local in good standing not presently holding office or immediately seeking office shall be established by vote at a Regular Meeting four (4) weeks prior to an election. The Election Committee shall immediately begin to solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected.
7.11 Nominations shall be made from the floor or directly to the Election Committee prior to the Local Convention. A final call for nominations will be made as the first order of business at the Local Convention. All Local members have the right to nominate candidates, including themselves by self-nomination. No person may be a nominee for more than one titled office. There shall be no limit to the number of nominees.
7.12 The Election Committee shall inform potential candidates of their nomination by the Local membership and will regularly alert the Local of each new nomination upon each candidate’s acceptance.
7.13 Nominations for Local officers will open in September and close at the Local Convention in October. Nominations for convention delegates shall be held on the schedule announced by and according to the procedures of the national organization, or other such respective body.
7.2 Elections. Elections for titled officers will take place in October, with nominations beginning in September. Any Regular Meeting at which officers or delegates are elected shall be considered a Local Convention. The voting will be conducted by secret referendum ballot and overseen by the Election Committee.
7.21 Each voting member of the Local shall be allowed one (1) vote per titled office with the exception of one (1) vote for each of the two (2) Co-Chair positions. When electing Co-Chairs each voting member shall cast two (2) votes, one (1) for each of two (2) candidates. The candidate who receives the most votes shall be elected as a Co-Chair. The other Co-Chair shall be whichever candidate receives the most votes out of the remaining candidates and does not violate Article 5.31.
7.22 Special elections may be called for by the membership to fill any vacant Local office. Special elections will be overseen by a three-person Special Election Committee composed of members of the Local in good standing not presently holding office or immediately seeking office and shall be established by vote. The Special Election Committee will solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected and oversee the special election itself.
7.23 Uncontested elections shall be decided by acclamation.
7.3 Recalls. Any elected or appointed officer to the Local can be recalled by the membership at any time through a recall petition. Upon a recall petition directed against any elected or appointed officer to the Local setting forth the reasons for the recall and signed by fifteen percent (15%) of the Local in good standing being presented to any Co-Chair (or, if not to the Co-Chairs for similar charges or suspicion of any conflict of interest, to any elected officer of the Local Coordinating Committee in good standing), that officer shall immediately stand suspended from office pending a recall election.
7.31 The officer to whom the petition is presented shall immediately notify all members of the Local of the filing of the petition. A recall referendum shall be held at the next scheduled Regular Meeting but no more than thirty (30) days after receipt of the recall petition. An Emergency Meeting must be called in the absence of a timely Regular Meeting.
7.32 The recall referendum shall call for a “yes” or “no” vote by secret ballot on the recall of the officer involved. If a majority of the votes cast is in favor of recall, the office in question shall be declared vacant, and it shall be filled by appointment or special election. If the majority of the votes cast are against recall, the suspended officer shall immediately be reinstated.
ARTICLE 8. Branches & Working Groups
8.1 A branch or working group is understood as a subgroup of the Local consisting of at least five (5) full members in good standing with DSA. Branches may be defined by geography, work site, or constituency, whereas working groups are composed around an area of political or movement work.
8.11 Prospective branches and working groups shall present to the Coordinating Committee a written proposal outlining their program and signed by at least five (5) full members in good standing. A proposal shall be submitted no less than thirty (30) days prior to the next meeting or convention to ensure adequate time for discussion and consideration by the membership of the Local. New branches and working groups shall be established by a two-thirds (⅔) majority vote of the present membership in good standing at any meeting or convention of the Local.
8.12 Exploratory Committee. An exploratory committee for establishment of a branch or working group may be commissioned upon a majority vote of the Coordinating Committee, consisting of such members as the Coordinating Committee shall appoint at its discretion. An exploratory committee shall otherwise secure branch or working group status per the process laid out in Article 8.11.
8.13 Branches and working groups shall elect or appoint their own chairs or leads at or within thirty (30) days after the April Mid-Year Convention. A branch or working group may, by majority vote, unseat any chair or lead of their own branch or working group at any branch or working group meeting or by due process as defined by the bylaws of any respective branch or working group. The chairs or leads of branches and working groups shall make every effort to regularly report to and attend the meetings of the Local and the Coordinating Committee.
8.14 Accountability & Decertification. Branches and working groups are accountable to the general membership of the Local. A branch or working group may be decertified by a two-thirds (⅔) majority vote of the membership for failure to meet in the past three (3) months, failure to carry out their own program, failure to conduct their affairs according to these or their own Bylaws, or the promotion of policies contrary to those of the Local or National organization. A motion for decertification must be addressed to the Coordinating Committee and placed on the agenda at least two (2) weeks prior to any meeting or convention of the Local.
8.15 A branch or working group or its leadership may be temporarily suspended from their activities by a majority vote of the Coordinating Committee in the case of an emergency.
8.2 Youth Sections. Branches established on college and high school campuses and consisting of students will be called Local Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least five (5) full members in good standing with national DSA. The chairs of Local Youth Sections shall make every effort to regularly report to and attend the meetings of the Local and the Coordinating Committee.
ARTICLE 9. Committees
9.1 The Local may establish Ad Hoc Committees, which will exist for a limited and explicit duration. Ad Hoc Committees may be established by a majority vote of full members in good standing at a Regular Meeting of the Local.
9.2 The leads of Ad Hoc Committees will keep the Coordinating Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local informed on the activities of the committee.
ARTICLE 10. Prohibited Activity
10.1 The Local shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501(c)4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of Washington. Nor shall the Local engage in any activity prohibited by its own resolutions or resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
ARTICLE 11. Amendments
11.1 Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five (5) members of the Local, and submitted to the Coordinating Committee two (2) weeks prior to a Regular Meeting or Local Convention. The Coordinating Committee is required to provide the Local membership with one (1) week’s written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a majority vote of two consecutive meetings of the general membership.
11.11 Amendments passed at Local Convention shall not require ratification at a second meeting.
ARTICLE 12. Rules of the Local
12.1 Rules for meetings and conventions of the Local may be set out in advance by the Coordinating Committee and adopted by the membership at the start of any given meeting or convention. If no rules are set out or any rules are needed beyond what is set out, the Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall 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 upon the request of a member.
12.2 Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.