Amended November 2020
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 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 (“Tacoma DSA”), 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 The membership of the Local shall comprise all DSA members residing within the jurisdiction of the Local. DSA members shall be defined to include all people who have paid dues to the National organization within the last two years or who have paid lifetime dues. Members in good standing will include all DSA members who have paid dues within the last year or who have paid lifetime dues. All Local members in good standing shall have full and equal rights of membership.
3.1.1 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 Steering Committee shall have the power to suspend or expel members from the Local, or to suspend or remove members of committees, campaigns and 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, ally, or member of the community; 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; if they engage in entryism against the Local, or otherwise attempt to infiltrate or join in bad faith; 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. The Steering 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. Any member may be temporarily suspended from membership or removed from a committee, campaign, or other official group of the Local, pending a grievance procedure or other investigation, without advance notice, by a two-thirds (⅔) vote of the Steering Committee, where good cause exists for such temporary suspension or removal.
3.2.1 Process and Appeals. A two-thirds (⅔) vote of the Steering Committee is required to suspend or expel a member. A suspended or expelled member must receive written notice of the charges against them at least fourteen (14) days before a meeting of the Steering Committee and must be given the opportunity to appeal. A hearing before the Steering Committee must be requested in written form within fourteen (14) days and held no more than sixty (60) days from the initial notice of suspension or expulsion. Following such a hearing, the Steering Committee shall vote to uphold or overturn the initial decision.
3.2.2 If the decision is upheld, a suspended or expelled member may appeal directly to the membership at the next Regular Meeting, or Local Convention, whichever may come first. In order to be placed on the agenda for a meeting, such an appeal must be requested in written form at least seven (7) days before the meeting. If a suspended or expelled member fails to appear, they shall be entitled to one (1) more opportunity before the membership at the next official meeting of the Local.
3.2.3 A member in good standing may introduce a motion to appeal the decision and a vote of two-thirds (⅔) shall be required to overturn the suspension or expulsion. A suspended or expelled member may be asked to leave the room for discussion and voting. This vote may be conducted by secret ballot at the request of any member of the Local in good standing. Members who have joined after the date of the initial notice of a suspension or expulsion will not be eligible to vote on the motion.
3.2.4 Reasonable accommodation may be considered by the membership and an Emergency Meeting may be scheduled for an appeal. Appeals to a suspension or expulsion may not be made at the April Mid-Year Convention.
3.3 The Local may establish a local pledge system of voluntary donations for its members.
3.4 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 Steering Committee. Youth Section chairs are elected internally.
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 Steering Committee, set policy and overall direction, and review and amend the Constitution and Bylaws of the Local as necessary.
4.1.1 New members will receive voting credentials thirty (30) days after their join date. Members whose dues are in arrears (ie., past due) may renew at the start of any meeting or convention of the Local 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 (8) times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Steering Committee. Regular Meetings will set policy and work priorities for the Local and will include political education sessions and reports from committees, campaigns, and other official groups of the Local.
4.2.1 Mid-Year Convention. The Regular Meeting held in April will be a special meeting to assess the status of Local committees and campaigns and other ongoing work.
4.3 An Emergency Meeting may be called by the Steering 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.
4.6 A motion may be amended as a “friendly amendment” if both the first and second of the main motion agree to the amended language.
ARTICLE 5. Titled Officers: Powers & Duties
5.1 The titled officers of the Local will be the Co-Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Coordinator, and Campaign Coordinator. The term of office will be one (1) year with elections held in October. Upon election, new officers will immediately assume all respective duties. Outgoing officers will transfer all records, ownership and access to official accounts, and other relevant materials in their possession to their successors within thirty (30) days.
5.1.1 Every effort shall be made so that no more than half of the members of the Steering Committee shall identify as cisgender men. And every effort shall be made so that as many Steering Committee members as possible will reflect historically marginalized communities.
5.2 In the event of a vacancy in any Local office, the Steering 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 Steering 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 committees, campaigns, and other official groups. The Co-Chairs will report to Local Regular Meetings on the business of the Steering Committee, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be made available.
5.3.1 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 ensure 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 Steering Committee Meetings, and will have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local. 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 Steering Committee of the Local.
5.6 Membership Coordinator. The Membership Coordinator will be responsible for matters dealing with the recruitment, development, and mobilization of the Local’s membership. This includes the keeping of a membership database, conducting a census, driving diversity and recruitment efforts, as well as any tasks assigned to the role by the Steering Committee.
5.7 Campaign Coordinator. The Campaign Coordinator will work with the Local’s issue and campaign-based committees to make sure they have support from the Steering Committee. They shall also be responsible for keeping the Steering Committee and the membership informed of the issue-based or campaign committees’ projects.
5.8 The 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 6. Steering Committee
6.1 The Steering 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 Steering 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, campaign, or other official group of the Local, 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 the rank-and-file Local membership.
6.2.1 The Steering 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.
6.2.2 The Steering 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 Steering Committee will be held at the call 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 be given four (4) days oral or written notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
6.4 A quorum of four (4) members of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.
6.5 The Steering Committee shall be authorized to approve expenses up to $200. Larger expenses shall be brought before the membership for approval.
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.
7.1.1 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. Any member in good standing may 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. A nominee must be in good standing to be considered eligible.
7.1.2 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.
7.1.3 Nominations will open in September and close at the Local Convention in October.
7.2 Elections. Elections will take place in October as part of the Local Convention. The voting will be conducted by secret referendum ballot or by electronic voting and overseen by the Election Committee.
7.2.1 Each voting member of the Local shall be allowed one (1) vote per elected position 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.
7.2.2 Special elections may be called for by the membership to fill any vacant elected position. 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.
7.2.3 Uncontested elections shall be decided by acclamation.
7.2.4 Absentee ballots shall be made available upon request for members in good standing unable to attend a meeting or convention at which an election may take place. Absentee ballots shall be accepted up until 11:59 PM on the following day after the close of nominations.
7.3 Recalls. Any member serving in an elected position may be recalled by the membership at any time through a recall petition. Upon a recall petition directed against a member setting forth the reasons for the recall and signed by fifteen percent (15%) of the Local in good standing being presented to the Steering Committee, that member shall immediately stand suspended from their position pending a recall election.
7.3.1 The Steering Committee 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.
7.3.2 The recall referendum shall call for a “yes” or “no” vote by secret ballot on the recall of the member involved. If a majority of the votes cast is in favor of recall, the position 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. Committees
8.1 Issue-Based Committee. An issue-based committee is a subcommittee of the Local established to maintain ongoing engagement and education around a core political priority of the Local by organizing discrete campaigns, events, and projects related to that issue. Issue-based committees, as well as campaign committees, are the primary political units of the Local and are set to specific political stances for the Local by undertaking initiatives in accordance with their platforms and mission statements. Issue-based committees shall be composed of at least five (5) members in good standing.
8.2 Campaign Committee. A campaign committee is a temporary subcommittee of the Local established to organize around a single campaign or goal. Campaign committees shall have a defined strategy, purpose, and endpoint, exist only for the duration of such a campaign, and whose work does not fall squarely under the purview of any single issue-based committee. Campaign committees will build external partnerships and emphasize coordination and engagement with issue-based and resource committees as appropriate. Campaign committees shall be composed of at least five (5) members in good standing.
8.3 Resource Committee. A resource committee is a standing subcommittee of the Local tasked with carrying out the administrative needs of the Steering Committee and providing support for the membership, chapter campaigns, and issue-based committees. Members of resource committees shall be appointed by the Steering Committee. Each resource committee shall have a single chair appointed to a one (1) year term by the Steering Committee, subject to ratification by the membership at the next Regular Meeting. Resource committees shall be composed of no fewer than two (2) members and no greater than five (5) members, except where otherwise indicated.
8.3.1 Communications Committee. The Communications Committee shall help build and maintain the various lines of communication of the Local, including a website, social media, and newsletters. The Communications Committee shall be under the oversight of the Co-Chairs and will be responsible to the Steering Committee as a whole. The Steering Committee shall retain full access to all chapter accounts and have final approval over all chapter statements, petitions, and newsletters.
8.3.2 Education Committee. The Education Committee shall be responsible for the political education and policy research of the Local, including organizing educational events and coordinating policy and research tasks of the committees at their request. The Education Committee shall be under the oversight of the Membership Coordinator and will be responsible to the Steering Committee as a whole.
8.3.3 Outreach Committee. The Outreach Committee shall assist with the onboarding of new members, engaging the membership with the projects and priorities of the Local, and other such matters concerning member engagement and mobilization. The Outreach Committee shall be under the oversight of the Membership Coordinator and will be responsible to the Steering Committee as a whole.
8.4 Ad Hoc Committee. An ad hoc committee is a temporary subcommittee chartered by the Steering Committee to handle specific administrative tasks. Ad hoc committees shall be composed of no fewer than two (2) members and no greater than five (5) members and exist for a limited and explicit duration. In no case shall an ad hoc committee operate for more than four (4) months.
8.5 Prospective issue-based and campaign committees shall present to the Steering Committee a written proposal outlining their program and signed by at least five (5) 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. New issue-based and campaign committees 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.
8.5.1 Each issue-based and campaign committee shall have a single chair elected directly by the membership to a one (1) year term at Local Convention or upon establishment of such a committee. Issue-based and campaign committees may appoint additional leads or establish their own subcommittees to better facilitate their work. Committee chairs shall make every effort to regularly report to and attend the meetings of the Local and the Steering Committee.
8.5.2 Exploratory Committee. An exploratory committee for the establishment of an issue-based or campaign committee may be commissioned by a majority vote of the Steering Committee, consisting of such members as the Steering Committee shall appoint at its discretion. Exploratory committees shall be composed of no fewer than two (2) members and no greater than five (5) members. An exploratory committee shall otherwise secure more permanent status per the process laid out in Article 8.5.
8.5.3 Accountability & Decertification. Committees are accountable and subordinate to the general membership of the Local. A committee may be decertified by a two-thirds (⅔) majority vote of the membership present at any meeting or convention of the Local 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, the promotion of policies contrary to those of the Local or National organization, or otherwise engaging in actions detrimental to the work and reputation of the Local. A motion for decertification must be addressed to the Steering Committee and placed on the agenda at least two (2) weeks prior to any meeting or convention of the Local.
8.5.4 A committee or its leadership may be temporarily suspended from their activities by a majority vote of the Steering Committee in the case of an emergency.
ARTICLE 9. Campaign Council
9.1 The Campaign Coordinator shall work with other members of the Steering Committee to hold bimonthly Campaign Council meetings, consisting of the chairs of committees and the Steering Committee. The Campaign Council is not a decision making body, but shall work to facilitate the coordination of the various committees of the Local and carry out chapter mandates as directed by the membership.
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 Steering Committee two (2) weeks prior to a Regular Meeting or Local Convention. The Steering 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.
11.1.1 Amendments passed at Local Convention shall not require ratification at a second meeting.
ARTICLE 12. Policies & Best Practices
12.1 Union-Printing. Whenever possible, printed materials such as banners, posters, brochures, campaign materials, clothing, pins, etc. shall be purchased from a union shop with the union label.
12.2 Recording & Broadcasting. The Local may broadcast and record its official meetings for accessibility purposes. There shall be no unauthorized recording or broadcasting.
ARTICLE 13. Rules of the Local
13.1 Rules for meetings and conventions of the Local may be set out in advance by the Steering 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.
13.2 Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.