Bylaws of the Tampa Bay Local Chapter
of the Democratic Socialists of America
Amended November 13, 2019
ARTICLE I. Name.
The name of the Local Chapter will be the Tampa Bay Democratic Socialists of America or TBDSA Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.
ARTICLE II. Purpose.
The Tampa Bay Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America 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.
DSA 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, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.
DSA 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 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.
ARTICLE III. Membership.
Section 1. Membership.
Members of the Tampa Bay Democratic Socialists of America Local Chapter of DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in Tampa Bay area. Individuals may not be members of the Local Chapter without being members of national DSA. 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 member in good standing is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of national DSA, or if 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 Chapter may vote to expel them from the Local Chapter of DSA. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally prefer written charges against the member in question to the Local Chapter Steering Committee, which will set the date of a Local Chapter 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 (2) weeks before that meeting takes place. Expulsion of a member requires a two-thirds vote of the Local Chapter meeting. An expelled member in good standing may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.
If a member is accused by another member in good standing of engaging in assault, harassment, or abuse toward anyone in proximity to or involved in some capacity with TBDSA, the Steering Committee is empowered to take action commensurate with the severity of the accusations, which may include immediate suspension of the accused from all TBDSA meetings and events. If the Steering Committee has determined that these events have very likely occurred, the Steering Committee may decide to expel the accused permanently from TBDSA. A member of the Local Chapter Steering Committee will notify the accused of their suspension or expulsion as soon as they can be reached.
Section 3. Voluntary Donations.
As mandated by the national Constitution and Bylaws, the Local Chapter may establish a Local Chapter pledge system of voluntary donations for its members. The payment of a Local Chapter donation may not be a requirement for voting or for holding Local Chapter office.
Section 4. Privacy Concerns.
TBDSA adheres to a strict policy of protecting the privacy of each 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, such as sign-in sheets; their Local Chapter activity, such as attendance at meetings and events; photographs and videos containing the member face, voice, or other identifiable features; and their contact information, such as name, email address, and phone number.
ARTICLE IV. Local Chapter Meetings.
Section 1. Biannual Meeting.
The Local Chapter will hold a minimum of one (1) Biannual Meeting annually for purposes of electing officers. All members of the Local Chapter will be sent notice of and an agenda for the Biannual Meeting. Notice may be sent by electronic means, but individuals who have not provided an email address may be sent a paper copy. The Biannual Meeting will elect Local Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Local Chapter. The Bi-annual Meeting may coincide with a General Meeting.
Section 2. General Meetings.
The Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter Steering Committee. The General Meetings will set Local Chapter policy and work priorities, and they will include political education sessions.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee will set the agenda for General Meetings. In general, the General Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local Chapter.
Section 3. Emergency Meetings.
The Local Chapter Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local Chapter 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 Biannual, General, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
ARTICLE V. Local Chapter Officers: Powers and Duties.
Section 1. Officers and Terms.
The officers of the Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter office, the Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter. They will preside over Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local Chapter’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 Local Chapter’s branches and committees.
c. The Co-Chairs will report to Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter with the exception of social media, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local Chapter. They will insure effective communication with national 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 Local Chapter and Steering Committee Meetings, and will have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local Chapter. 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 Local Chapter. The treasurer, with the cooperation of the Co-Chairs, will be responsible for overseeing Local Chapter incorporation status and related tax status. All funds collected by the Local Chapter will be turned over to the Treasurer, who will deposit them in a bank account under the name of the Local Chapter once the Local Chapter reaches incorporation status. As a placeholder protocol, all funds raised will be counted and initialed by two members of the Local Chapter Steering Committee, documented in the Local Chapter financial report and held in a secure location until a savings account can be opened. 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 Chapter budget and deliver the Local Chapter financial report to the Biannual Meeting of the Local Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee of the Local Chapter. The most recent Local Chapter 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 online content of the Local Chapter. 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 Local Chapter; publish content that reflects the mission and principles of the Local Chapter. 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 Local Chapter.
Section 7. Organizers.
There shall be two 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 Local Chapter through the development, education, mobilization, and recruitment of members; Organize, or delegate to a member of TBDSA in good-standing, the organizing of all meetings and events being hosted under the Tampa Bay 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 Local Chapter Steering Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the Local Chapter, 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 Local Chapter Steering Committee will be composed of the seven (7) officers of the Local Chapter and the chair(s) of any Local Chapter branches.
Section 2. Duties.
a. The Steering Committee administers the affairs of the Local Chapter and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the Biannual and General Meetings; it may also propose policy to the Biannual 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 Local Chapter, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Steering Committee is the regular executive body of the Local Chapter, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the Biannual and General Meetings.
b. The Local Chapter 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 members in good standing of DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter consisting of at least five (5) members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography or language. The chairs of branches will hold membership on the Local Chapter Steering Committee.
Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) chapters within the geographic area defined by a DSA Local Chapter may affiliate as a branch of that Local Chapter, in which case the local YDSA chapter may send a representative to the Local Chapter Steering Committee.
ARTICLE VIII. Working Groups and Committees.
Section 1. Working Group Formation.
A Working Group is a subsection of the chapter working on a specific issue or campaign. A Working Group 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 Working Groups to organize around specific functions for the chapter or external campaigns. Members who wish to form a Working Group 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 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 Working Group shall be chartered and created with the approval of a majority of the votes cast at a General, Regular, or Special Meeting. The following Working Groups (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 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 Local Chapter 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 Working Group’s proposed activities relate to the mission of another Working Group, the co-chairs of that Working Group shall be notified. Should a dispute arise between two or more Working Groups that cannot be resolved between them, it shall be resolved at a meeting of the Steering Committee.
A Working Group’s activities shall be reviewed by the Steering Committee at its meetings, and meeting minutes and other Working Group documentation, as well as all financial receipts and statements, shall be kept up to date with the Local Chapter’s Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Working Groups shall report on their activities to the membership at General or Special Meetings as necessary.
Section 4. Modification and Dissolution.
Working Groups may be dissolved or may amend their charters, including changes to the Working Group’s budget, with the approval of a majority of the votes cast at an Annual, Regular, or Special Meeting. Notice of a proposed Working Group dissolution or an amendment to a Working Group’s charter must be given to the membership by email or other electronic means at least at least two weeks prior to the meeting.
Additionally, Working Groups that are chartered as temporary Working Groups 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 Working Group’s records shall provide copies of those records to the Steering Committee Secretary.
Section 5. Committees
The Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter. 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 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 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 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.
Local Chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by members in good standing of the Local Chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation will be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
ARTICLE XI. Prohibited Activity
Tampa Bay Democratic Socialists of America Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter 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.
ARTICLE XIII. Amendments.
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five (5) members of the Local Chapter of DSA, and submitted to the Steering Committee at least one (1) month in advance of a Biannual or General Meeting. The Steering Committee is required to provide the Local Chapter 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 Biannual) Local Chapter meetings.
ARTICLE XIV. Rules of the Local Chapter.
Section 1. Rules.
The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, will govern this Local Chapter 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 Local Chapter in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.