Constitution of the Dubuque Local of the Democratic Socialists of America

Adopted: January 29, 2017; Amended January 28, 2018; Amended July 24, 2018

ARTICLE I. Name.

The name of this not-for-profit voluntary association is the Dubuque Local of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

The shortened name of the association is the Dubuque Democratic Socialists (DDS).

ARTICLE II. Purpose.

The DDS, like its parent organization, the DSA, seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means/resources of production are democratically and socially controlled.

DDS rejects an economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We reject discrimination based on race, ethnicity, country of origin, socio-economic class, dis/ability, age, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

DDS envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, radical social equality, and non-oppressive relationships.

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 and of private formations of power. 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.

ARTICLE III. Membership.

The members of Dubuque Democratic Socialists (DDS) shall consist of all individuals who are members in good standing within the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and who reside and/or work within the territory specified in the bylaws. (Amended by Resolution 2017.004)

ARTICLE IV. Local Meetings.

Section 1. General Meeting.

The Local will hold a minimum of one General Meeting annually, and all members of the Local will receive three weeks written (or electronic mail) notice and an agenda of the General Meeting. The General Meeting will elect Local officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Local.

Section 2. Regular Meetings.

The Local will hold Regular Meetings at least six times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Local Steering Committee. The Regular Meetings will set Local policy and work priorities, and will include political education sessions.

The Local Steering Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local.

Section 3. Emergency Meetings.

The Local Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local on five days notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.

Section 4. Quorum.

A quorum of 20 percent of the members from the current membership roll (but not fewer than six persons) is required for General, Regular, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.

ARTICLE V. Local Officers: Powers and Duties.

Section 1. Officers and Terms

The officers of the Local will be a Chair, a Vice-Chair, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. The term of office will be one year, and shall run from February 1 to January 31 or until their successors are elected.

Section 2. Vacancies.

In the event of a vacancy of any office on the Steering Committee, a special election will be held in accordance with the Bylaws.

Section 3. Chair and Vice-Chair.

(a) The Chair will be the chief executive officer of the Local. They will preside over General, Regular, and Steering Committee meetings or will appoint a substitute to assume the powers and duties of the presiding officer as specified in Robert’s Rules of Order. The Chair will be the official public spokesperson for the Local and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local’s general welfare may demand.

(b) The Chair will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Local’s branches and committees. They will insure effective communication with the national DSA.

(c) The Chair will report to Local Regular Meetings on the business of the Steering Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.

(d) The Vice-Chair will assume the duties of the Chair when they are unavailable, or upon request of the Chair. The Vice-Chair will also serve as the membership coordinator and lead mobilizer for the Local.

Section 4. Secretary.

(a) The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Local, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Chair or Vice-Chair if they are unable to do so.

(b) The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Local and Steering Committee Meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local. They shall transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists.

Section 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 bank account under the name of the Local. In cooperation with the Secretary, 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 General Meeting of the Local, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee of the Local.

Section 6. Additional Duties.

The Local 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 the Bylaws.

ARTICLE VI. Steering Committee.

Section 1. Composition.

The Local Steering Committee will be composed of the four officers of the Local, the chair(s) of Local Youth Sections, the chair(s) of any Local Branches, and all Coordinators, as established under the Bylaws.

Efforts must be made to ensure that the Steering Committee is diverse and representative of the DDS membership.

Section 2. Duties.

(a) The Steering Committee administers the affairs of the Local and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the General and Regular Meetings; it may also propose policy to the General and Regular Meetings. It shall have the power to receive reports of any Committee, Working Group, or Branch, 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 its Legislative bodies, the General and Regular Meetings.

(b) The Local Steering Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Local chapter, 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.

Section 3. Meetings.

The meetings of the Steering Committee will be held monthly at the call of the Chair or at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Steering Committee Meeting. All members of the Steering Committee must (ordinarily) be given four days oral or written notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.

Section 4. Quorum.

A quorum of five members of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.

ARTICLE VII. Amendments.

Proposed amendments to this Constitution must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of DDS, and submitted to the Steering Committee a month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Steering Committee is required to provide the Local membership with two weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a 2/3 majority vote of two consecutive (Regular or General) Local meetings.

 

Bylaws of the Dubuque Local of the Democratic Socialists of America

Adopted: January 29, 2017; Amended January 28, 2018

ARTICLE I. Membership.

Section 1. Qualifications for Membership.

Members of the DDS will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full and who (i) reside and/or work in Dubuque County, Iowa or (ii) reside and/or work in a county adjacent to Dubuque County, Iowa, which is not within the territory of another DSA chapter. (Amended by Resolution 2017.004)

Section 2. Responsibilities of Members.

It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the local chapter, to elect delegates to the national convention, to vote on matters related to national policy, and to make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of DSA.

Section 2. Removal of Members.

If a full member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of national DSA, or if s/he is they are found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic, disruptive behavior, or if they are found to be under the discipline of any self-defined democratic centralist organization, the Local may vote to expel her/him from DSA. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally file written charges against the member in question to the Local Steering Committee, which shall set the date of a Local meeting for deliberations on the charges. The member in question must receive a copy of the written charges and notice of the meeting a minimum of two weeks before that meeting takes place. Expulsion of a member or affiliate member requires a two-thirds vote of the Local meeting. An expelled full member may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.

Section 3. Pledges.

There shall be a pledge system of voluntary donations for members of DDS. No financial contribution confers rights or privileges. No person shall be denied membership in DDS on the basis of the inability to make a financial contribution to the organization.

ARTICLE II. Elections.

Section 1. Nominations Committee.

A three-person Nominations Committee shall be established by vote of a Regular Meeting at least two weeks prior to every election. It shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected.

Section 2. Nominations Process.

Nominations for Local officers and delegates to the National Convention, as well as any regional or state conventions, shall be opened 10 days before and closed at the General Meeting. The call for nominations shall be announced to full members of DDS in advance of the General Meeting.

Section 3. Uncontested Positions.

If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.

Section 4. Removal of Officers.

Any officer may be removed by the Steering Committee for violation of the articles or by-laws of the DDS or for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of DDS. Should any member of the Steering Committee miss three or more consecutive meetings, the Steering Committee may declare that position vacant. It must notify said member of its intention to vacate their position prior to the meeting at which such action will be voted on. In the event of a vacancy, the vacancy shall be filled by a special election. If the vacancy is an officer of DDS, an acting successor may be appointed by the Chair until a new officer is elected at the next regularly scheduled membership meeting or a membership meeting specially called for that purpose. If the vacancy is a Branch chair or Coordinator, the replacement will be elected at the next meeting of that Branch or or the next Regular Meeting.

ARTICLE III. Branches.

Section 1. Definition.

A branch is a subgroup of the Local consisting of at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography, work site, constituency (e.g., labor, minority, feminist), or area of political work (e.g., peace action, environmental movement). The chairs of branches will hold membership on the Local Steering Committee.

Section 2. Youth Sections.

Branches established on college or high school campuses and consisting of students will be called Local Youth Sections. Youth Sections must have at least five full members in good standing with national DSA. The chairs of Local Youth Sections will hold membership on the Local Steering Committee.

ARTICLE IV. Coordinators.

Section 1. Definition.

The coordinators are elected by the membership and are responsible for overseeing and organizing the core missions of the Local. Coordinators serve on the Steering Committee, are expected to attend the Regular and General Meetings, and have the authority to convene ad hoc committees and working groups pertaining to their missions.

Section 2. Coordinator Positions.

(a) There shall be three Coordinators:

  1. The Coordinator of Advocacy is charged with engaging members of the Local in the task of identifying, researching, and acting on local, state, and national issues that align with the DDS vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships. In collaboration with the broader Steering Committee, they will create working groups or ad hoc committees to advance these goals, forge strategic alliances, and engage with those in positions of power. Moreover, they will represent DDS’s advocacy interests in the broader community and coordinate regular participation in city government on the part of DDS members.

  2. The Coordinator of Education and Programming is charged with developing internal educational opportunities for members concerning matters of interest to the Local, as well as community-oriented external programming that increases awareness and understanding of democratic socialism.  In collaboration with the broader Steering Committee, they will create ad hoc committees to plan regular and special programming throughout the year.

  3. The Coordinator of Media and Publicity is charged with overseeing the internal and external communication efforts of DDS, including maintenance of the organization’s website and social media presence. They will be responsible for crafting and distributing all press releases and will provide editorial oversight for the organization’s journalistic efforts.

(b) The Coordinators will be elected annually by a majority vote of General Meeting. Coordinators  will keep the Steering Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local informed on the activities of any ad hoc committees or working groups they oversee. Each Coordinator will submit and deliver a year-end report to the General Meeting.

(c) The duties of the Coordinators include proposing policies and initiatives to the General and Regular Meetings and executing decisions of the Local at the behest of the Steering Committee.

ARTICLE V. Ad Hoc Committees.

Section 1. Duration.

The Local will have Ad Hoc Committees, which will exist for a limited and explicit duration. Ad Hoc Committees may be established by a 2/3 vote of the Steering Committee or by a bare majority vote of full members at a Regular Meeting of the Local, and they must contain a minimum of three members.

Section 2. Duties.

Chairs of Ad Hoc Committees will keep the Steering Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local informed on the activities of the committee.

ARTICLE VI. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies.

Section 1. Convention.

Local delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by full members of the Local Chapter of DSA at either a General or Regular Meeting of the Local. Elections for the National Convention delegation shall be held on the schedule announced by the national organization and within the parameters prescribed by the DSA Bylaws.

Section 2. Regional and State Bodies.

Local delegates and alternates to any regional or state body will be elected by full members of the Local Chapter of DSA at either a General or Regular Meeting of the Local in accordance with any parameters prescribed by the regional or state body.

ARTICLE VII. Prohibited Activity.

DDS shall not engage in activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.

ARTICLE VIII. Rules of the Local.

Section 1. Rules.

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.

Section 2. Action Out of Order.

Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.

Section 3. Parliamentarian.

The Chair shall appoint a Parliamentarian who will advise the Chair and members of the Local on matters of parliamentary procedure and the rules of the Local. The Parliamentarian is not a member of the Steering Committee. They will speak to the assembly only when requested and may provide explanations or advice, but not rulings. They will, however, have a duty to inform the Chair of errors in parliamentary procedure if they affect the basic rights of members. Upon the request of a member, they  may provide advice on matters of procedure, even when there is not a meeting in process.

ARTICLE VIII. Amendments.

Proposed amendments to these bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of DDS, and submitted to the Steering Committee a month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Steering Committee is required to provide the Local membership with two weeks’ written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a simple majority vote of two consecutive (Regular or General) Local meetings.