Bylaws of the Tampa Democratic Socialists of America
Amended November 11, 2020
ARTICLE I. Name.
The name of this local chapter of the Democractic Socialists of America (“DSA”) is the Tampa Democratic Socialists of America (“TDSA”). TDSA is a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit corporation.
ARTICLE II. Purpose.
The TDSA seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means and resources of production are democratically and socially controlled.
TDSA rejects an economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation, or brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.
TDSA envisions a humane social order based on popular control of resources, production, and economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial 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: (1) a freedom of speech that does not recoil from dissent; (2) a freedom of assembly, including that allows organizing independent trade unions, women’s groups, political parties, and other formations — recognizing these as essential bulwarks against the dangers of an intrusive state; and 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.
Section 1. Membership.
Members of the TDSA will be those individuals whose dues to DSA are paid in full and who reside or work in the Tampa area. Individuals may not be members of the TDSA without being members of DSA. Members who meet these criteria are considered to be in good standing.
It will be the responsibility of TDSA members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the TDSA, to elect delegates to the DSA 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. Grievance Policy.
TDSA’s grievance policy will be outlined by DSA National’s “Resolution 33.” The TDSA Steering Committee will appoint at least two harassment grievance officers (“HGOs”), on a voluntary basis whose terms will coincide with the Steering Committee’s. The HGOs will be responsible for maintaining grievance proceedings and infrastructure in line with DSA National’s constitution and bylaws as well as the TDSA’s bylaws and Code of Conduct as tools for navigating TDSA grievance proceedings. HGOs can be removed at any time according to TDSA Bylaws Article XII Section 4 – Recalls.
To file a grievance, any member may contact one of the HGOs directly or via a confidential email hotline to which only the HGOs have access. This email hotline shall be published on the TDSA’s website.
In most cases, resolution of grievances through mediation is preferential to penalization when possible. The Chapter HGOs should keep current an inventory of mediation resources – both internal and external. Where and when appropriate in the grievance reporting timeline, the HGOs should help refer and administrate mediation between aggrieved parties.
Section 3. Suspension/Removal of Members.
A TDSA member in good standing may be subject to the remedies or penalties outlined in Resolution 33, up to or including expulsion from the TDSA if: (A) found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the DSA or the TDSA’s principles and Code of Conduct; (B) if found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic disruptive behavior; or (C) if found to be under the discipline of any self-defined democratic centralist organization. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member in good standing must formally proffer written charges against the member in question to the TDSA HGOs in accordance with the Grievance Policy. If after completing this process the Steering Committee decides that expulsion is the recommended remedy, the Steering Committee will set the date for a TDSA meeting for deliberations on the charges and will provide a minimum of two (2) weeks written notice of this meeting to membership of the TDSA. Expulsion of a member requires a two-thirds vote of the TDSA meeting. An expelled member in good standing may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.
If a member is accused of engaging in assault, harassment, or abuse toward anyone in proximity to or involved in some capacity with TDSA, or of being in gross violation of the Code of Conduct in a way which endangers the good standing of the TDSA at large, and if this accusation requires immediate attention before the full grievance procedure can take place, the HGOs can recommend immediate suspension of the member from all TDSA meetings and events to the Steering Committee, which is then empowered to take this action if it is commensurate with the severity of the accusations. One of the HGOs will notify the accused of their suspension as soon as they can be reached. At this time the HGOs will begin the formal grievance process in earnest in accordance with the Grievance Policy. The suspension will be in effect until the grievance process has completed, or until ,with a recommendation from the HGOs, the Steering Committee determines the temporary suspension is no longer needed.
Any former TDSA member who has been expelled by the TDSA (“Expelled Individual”) may apply for reinstatement into the chapter at a date no sooner than one (1) year later than the effective date of the expulsion. To apply for reinstatement, the Expelled Individual must proffer a written statement requesting reinstatement to the TDSA Steering Committee and attest to how the conditions warranting the original expulsion have been remedied. If the Steering Committee deems the request to have merit, they will set the date of a TDSA meeting for deliberations on the reinstatement of the Expelled Individual and give written notice of the meeting to TDSA membership a minimum of two (2) weeks before that meeting takes place. A decision to reinstate the Expelled Individual requires a two-thirds vote of the TDSA meeting. Subsequent applications for reinstatement by an Expelled Individual cannot be made at intervals of less than one (1) year.
Section 4. Privacy Concerns.
TDSA adheres to a strict policy of protecting the privacy of each TDSA member’s personal and contact information. Verbal or written consent must be obtained from a member before any of that member’s identifying information is shared to any other party other than the Steering Committee or Member Mobilizers, including but not limited to: internal recordkeeping, TDSA activity, and contact information.
ARTICLE IV. TDSA Meetings.
Section 1. Annual Meeting.
The TDSA will hold a minimum of one (1) Annual Meeting every year for purposes of electing officers. All TDSA members will be sent notice of and an agenda for the Annual Meeting. Notice may be sent by electronic means, but TDSA members who have not provided an email address may be sent a paper copy or contacted via phone, text message, or social media. The Annual Meeting will elect TDSA officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the TDSA. The Annual Meeting may coincide with a General Meeting.
Section 2. General Meetings.
The TDSA will hold General Meetings at least four (4) times annually, the time and place of which will be set in a schedule published and distributed by the TDSA Steering Committee. The General Meetings will set TDSA policy and work priorities, and they will include political education sessions.
The TDSA Steering Committee will set the agenda for General Meetings. In general, the General Meeting is the operating legislative body of the TDSA.
Section 3. Emergency Meetings.
The TDSA Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the TDSA on five (5) days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of 10 percent of the members (but not fewer than six (6) persons) is required for Annual, General, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
ARTICLE V. TDSA Officers: Powers and Duties.
Section 1. Officers and Terms.
The officers of the TDSA will be Co-chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, Social Media Manager, and Organizers. Elections will be held in November for a year-long term or until their successors are elected. The officers may not all be of the same gender.
Section 2. Vacancies.
In the event of a vacancy in any TDSA office, the TDSA Steering Committee will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term.
Section 3. Co-Chairs.
a. There shall be two (2) Co-Chairs in total. The Co-Chairs will be the chief executive officers of the TDSA. They will preside over TDSA 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, Newly Revised. The Co-Chairs will be the official public spokespersons for the TDSA and will initiate such actions and policies as the TDSA’s general welfare may demand.
b. The Co-Chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the TDSA’s branches and committees.
c. The Co-Chairs will report to TDSA General 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.
Section 4. Secretary.
a. The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the TDSA with the exception of social media, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the TDSA. They will ensure effective communication with the DSA. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair, if neither Co-Chair is able to do so.
b. The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all TDSA and Steering Committee meetings, and will have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the TDSA. They will transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records will include meeting minutes and member lists.
Section 5. Treasurer.
The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the TDSA. The treasurer, with the cooperation of the Co-Chairs, will be responsible for overseeing TDSA incorporation status and related tax status. All funds collected by the TDSA will be turned over to the Treasurer, who will deposit them in a bank account under the name of the TDSA.
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 TDSA budget and deliver the TDSA financial report to the Annual Meeting of the TDSA, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee of the TDSA. The most recent TDSA financial report shall be made available to any member in good standing upon written request, within five (5) days of submission.
Section 6. Social Media Manager
The Social Media Manager is responsible for managing and overseeing the Social Media Team and the online content of the TDSA. The Social Media Manager will manage all social media content; answer correspondence and queries received through social media; manage the website and online accounts created by the TDSA; publish content that reflects the mission and principles of the TDSA. The Social Media Manager will collaborate with the Steering Committee to create online content for building meaningful connections with the community for the advancement of the aims and goals of the TDSA.
Section 7. Organizers.
There shall be two (2) organizers in total. The roles and responsibilities of our Organizers will be jointly shared or have a dedicated lead organizer, democratically decided between the Steering Committee during the first month of the term.
These duties include: Oversee the Member Mobilizer Program, which is responsible for fostering a lively participatory and democratic culture within the TDSA through the development, education, mobilization, and recruitment of members; Organize, or delegate to a member of TDSA in good-standing, the organizing of all meetings and events being hosted under the Tampa Democratic Socialists of America name; In tandem with the Steering Committee, the Organizers shall develop and oversee a program of socialist cadre development that includes skills training and political education; Manage or execute all the Local’s issue and electoral campaigns, direct actions, rallies, and other activities expressly targeted at the general public for political purposes.
Section 8. Additional Duties.
The TDSA Steering Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the TDSA, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.
ARTICLE VI. Steering Committee.
Section 1. Composition.
The TDSA Steering Committee will be composed of the seven (7) elected officers of the TDSA, as outlined in Article V, and the chair(s) of any TDSA branches.
Section 2. Duties.
a. The Steering Committee administers the affairs of the TDSA and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the Annual and General Meetings; it may also propose policy to the Annual and General Meetings. It will have the power to receive reports of any committee or branch, and advise thereon, to call Emergency Meetings of the TDSA, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Steering Committee is the regular executive body of the TDSA, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the Annual and General Meetings.
b. The TDSA Steering Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the TDSA, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by members in good standing of DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between TDSA meetings.
Section 3. Meetings.
The meetings of the Steering Committee will be held at the call of one 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 (ordinarily) be given four (4) days oral, written, or electronic notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of five (5) members of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.
ARTICLE VII. Branches.
Section 1. Definition.
A branch is a subgroup of the TDSA consisting of at least five (5) members in good standing with DSA National. Branches may be defined by geography or language. The chairs of branches will hold membership on the TDSA Steering Committee.
Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) chapters within the geographic area defined by a DSA TDSA may affiliate as a branch of that TDSA, in which case the local YDSA chapter may send a representative to the TDSA Steering Committee.
ARTICLE VIII. Working Groups and Committees.
Section 1. Working Group Formation.
A Working Group (WG) is a subsection of the chapter working on a specific issue or campaign. A WG is a cadre within the chapter whose work on specific issues or campaigns creates an entry point with other working class formations (organizations, people) to provide a coherent socialist vision beyond our current work.
The Chapter may establish WGs to organize around specific functions for the chapter or external campaigns. Members who wish to form a WG must submit a proposed written charter to the Steering Committee that includes a group name; a mission statement and objectives; if necessary, a proposed budget that shall include any planned donation drives; a list of at least five (5) prospective members signed or affirmed by those members; a statement of whether the proposed committee is to be a standing committee of indefinite duration or a temporary committee to expire at a time certain or upon the occurrence of a specified event; whether membership in the committee is to be open to all members in good standing or limited, and if membership is to be limited, the number of members the committee shall have and the means by which members will be selected.
A proposed WG shall be chartered and created with the approval of a majority of the votes cast at a General, Regular, or Special Meeting. The following WGs established before the November 2018 Convention are “grandparented in” and do not have to be newly approved: Labor WG, Health Justice WG, Transformative/Restorative Justice WG, Political WG, Afro-Socialist Caucus, and Ecosocialist WG. These groups are still mandated to fulfill the other material requests of this proposal. Charters for proposed Working Groups must be distributed to the membership by email or other electronic means at least two (2) weeks prior to the meeting, and may not conflict with these Bylaws or with the charters of other active working groups and committees.
Section 2. Membership and Election of Working Group Leadership.
Membership with a Working Group shall be open to all TDSA members in good standing unless the Working Group’s charter limits membership, in which case the terms of the charter shall control. Working Groups shall maintain an official membership list. After the Working Group is created, but by no later than the Working Group’s second meeting, the Working Group shall hold elections for two (2) committee Co-Chairs and, if the Working Group chooses, one (1) Vice-Chair, using Ranked-Choice Voting. Terms shall be for either six months or one year at the Working Group members’ choosing, and incumbents may stand for reelection. At least one of the elected Co-Chairs must not be cis men. Should only cis men be nominated for Co-Chair, one of the positions will be held open, and may be filled by a special election of an eligible member.
Section 3. Duties and Responsibilities.
The members of a Working Group are responsible for executing their respective body’s strategy in fulfillment of its objectives. Co-Chairs and the Vice-Chair, if elected, are responsible for organizing their respective body’s members, running meetings, acting as liaisons to the Steering Committee, and serving as the Working Group’s points of contact to the membership. Working Groups must keep official records of meeting dates, attendance, and meeting notes, which must be made available to the membership.
When a WG’s proposed activities relate to the mission of another WG, the co-chairs of that WG shall be notified. Should a dispute arise between two (2) or more WGs that cannot be resolved between them, it shall be resolved at a meeting of the Steering Committee.
A WG’s activities shall be reviewed by the Steering Committee at its meetings, and meeting minutes and other WG documentation, as well as all financial receipts and statements, shall be kept up to date with the TDSA’s Secretary and Treasurer respectively. WGs shall report on their activities to the membership at General or Special Meetings as necessary.
Section 4. Modification and Dissolution.
WGs may be dissolved or may amend their charters, including changes to the WG’s budget, with the approval of a majority of the votes cast at an Annual, General, or Special Meeting. Notice of a proposed WG dissolution or an amendment to a WG’s charter must be given to the membership by email or other electronic means at least at least two (2) weeks prior to the meeting.
Additionally, WGs that are chartered as temporary WGs for a limited time or particular purpose shall dissolve automatically upon the expiration of the certain time or the occurrence of the particular event specified in their charter.
Upon dissolution, the member(s) maintaining custody of the WG’s records shall provide copies of those records to the Steering Committee Secretary.
Section 5. Committees
The TDSA will have Ad Hoc Committees, which will exist for a limited and explicit duration. Ad Hoc Committees may be established by a vote of members in good standing at a General Meeting of the TDSA. A committee is a subsection of the chapter created by the Steering Committee or a general membership meeting that is tasked with carrying out some internal function for the chapter. In order for the Steering Committee or general membership to form a committee, an explicit, publicly-stated, and singular motivation for designating the Steering Committee must be presented at the meeting and made available to the membership upon request. An explicit, publicly-stated set of goals for the SC whose fulfillment would abolish the committee promptly must be presented at the meeting as well, and must also be made available to the membership upon request.
ARTICLE IX. Caucuses
All members of good standing have the right to form a caucus, with any number of members, organized along lines of ideology, identity, interests or any other uniting principle. A group of five (5) or more members may form a caucus by submitting a proposal to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee must recognize all such groups as caucuses as long as they align with the Chapter’s purpose (see Article II). Such recognition shall not be construed as having authority to officially act on behalf of the Chapter. Caucuses must announce their meetings using the communication channels the chapter uses to announce Meetings of the chapter, and caucus meetings shall be open to all chapter members. Caucuses may dissolve themselves by notifying the Steering Committee.
ARTICLE X. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies.
Section 1. Convention.
TDSA delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by TDSA members in good standing. Elections for the National Convention delegation will be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
ARTICLE XI. Prohibited Activity
Tampa Democratic Socialists of America TDSA will not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501(c)(4) organizations or similar rules established by the state of Florida. Nor will the TDSA engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
ARTICLE XII. Elections, Nominations and Recalls.
Section 1. Nominations Committee.
A three (3)-person Nominations Committee will be established at least one (1) month prior to every election by vote of a General Meeting. It will solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected. Nominations committee members are excluded from being nominated into an elected position on the Steering Committee.
Section 2. Nominations Process.
Nominations for TDSA officers and delegates to the National Convention will be opened at least 10 days before and closed at the meeting at which elections take place. The call for nominations will be announced to all members in good standing of DSA as soon as nominations are open.
Section 3. Uncontested Positions.
If a position is uncontested, the nominee may be declared elected by acclamation.
Section 4. Recalls.
Any officer may be recalled for nonfeasance or malfeasance by a two-thirds vote of members at a TDSA meeting in person or by proxy. A formal written request for a recall vote must be proffered to the TDSA Steering Committee, which will set the date of a TDSA meeting for the vote and give notice of the meeting a minimum of two (2) weeks before that meeting takes place.
ARTICLE XIII. Amendments.
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five (5) members of the TDSA and submitted to the Steering Committee at least one (1) month in advance of an Annual or General Meeting. The Steering Committee is required to provide the TDSA membership with two (2) weeks’ written or electronic notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a majority vote of two (2) consecutive (General or Annual) TDSA meetings.
ARTICLE XIV. Rules of the Local Chapter.
Section 1. Rules.
The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, will govern TDSA 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, Newly Revised upon the request of a member.
Section 2. Action Out of Order.
Any action taken by an officer or member of the TDSA in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.
ARTICLE XIV. Funding and Fundraiser Requests.
All requests, made either by WGs or by Individuals for internal use, or for external fundraising projects, must be approved by the Steering Committee by two-thirds vote.
See Article V Section 5 for details regarding transaction documentation and money-keeping practices by TDSA Treasurer and SC.
Section 1. Requests By WGs.
WGs must provide a written request to the Steering Committee for use of Treasury funds, which must include an amount requested and brief description of the proposed use of funds. This request must be voted on by the working group prior to being made to the SC. Individual working groups can decide their own majority threshold for passing (51% vs 2/3rd majority vote, etc).
Section 2. Requests By Individuals.
Individuals may request funds for individual initiatives or projects by written request to the Steering Committee, which must include an amount requested and a brief description of the proposed use of funds.
Section 3. Requests to Conduct Fundraising for External Causes Separate from TDSA Treasury.
In order to conduct an effort to raise funds external from TDSA’s Treasury to support an external cause or individual (eg bail or relief funds, partnered organization projects, etc), an individual, Working Group, or ad hoc group may make a written proposal to the Steering Committee outlining the purpose for the fundraiser. If the proposal is accepted, an option will be added to TDSA’s donation page for individuals to donate to this specific cause instead of to the general TDSA Treasury. All raised funds must be tracked by the TDSA Treasurer and the point person for the fundraiser must submit documentation demonstrating transfer of funds to the recipient cause or individual.