Adopted March 31st, 2020
ARTICLE I. Name.
The Madison Area Democratic Socialists of America (MADSA, or “the Local Chapter”) is a local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.
ARTICLE II. Purpose.
DSA seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means of production are democratically and socially controlled.
DSA rejects an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, violence in defense of the status quo, imperialism, and discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and national origin.
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 MADSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in the Madison Area as defined by the charter granted by the national DSA. 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. Code of Conduct and Resolutions Procedure
Members of MADSA shall comply with the Local Chapter Code of Conduct and Resolutions Procedure. The Code of Conduct and Resolutions Procedure outlines acceptable behavior for MADSA member, as well as the disciplinary process for noncompliance.
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.
The Local Chapter will develop policies and procedures to provide members with reasonable protection from unwanted and unintended member information exposure.
ARTICLE IV. Local Chapter Meetings.
Section 1. Chapter Convention.
The Local Chapter will hold a minimum of one Chapter Convention annually for purposes of electing officers. The Chapter Convention shall be announced to all members of the Local Chapter with at least ten days’ notice, including an agenda. Notice may be sent by electronic means, but individuals who have not provided an email address must be sent a paper copy. The Chapter Convention will elect Local Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Local Chapter. The Chapter Convention may coincide with a Regular Meeting.
Section 2. Regular Meetings.
The Local Chapter will hold Regular (or Membership) Meetings at least four times annually, the time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Local Chapter Executive Committee. The Regular Meetings will set Local Chapter policy and work priorities, and they will include political education sessions.
The Local Chapter Executive Committee will set the agenda for Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local Chapter.
Section 3. Emergency Meetings.
The Local Chapter Executive Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of MADSA on three days’ notice and a posted agenda when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of 10 percent of the members (but not fewer than six persons) is required for General, Regular, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
Section 5. Accessibility
The Executive Committee will take steps to ensure that members with specific accessibility requirements have their needs met, per guidance from the National DSA Disability Working Group, and should strive to make all meetings and events accessible.
Section 6. Online Voting
Online voting shall be permitted as a decision-making method outside of Meetings, provided votes cast satisfy quorum in Section 4. Online votes may be called either by the Executive Committee or by motion at a General or Emergency Meeting.
ARTICLE V. Local Chapter Officers: Powers and Duties.
Section 1. Officers and Terms.
The officers of the Local Chapter will be two Co-Chairs, Administrator, Treasurer, and Communications Coordinator. The term of office will be one year, and shall run from April 1st to March 31st of the following year or until their successors are elected. To be eligible to run for an office, a member must have attended two membership meetings prior to the opening of nominations.
Section 2. Co-Chairs.
- The Co-Chairs will be the chief executive officers of the Local Chapter. They will preside over Local Chapter and Executive 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.
- 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.
- The Co-Chairs will report to Local Chapter Regular Meetings on the business of the Executive Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.
- The Co-Chairs will be the primary contact for communication to and from DSA’s national office, including participation in regular stakeholder calls. The Co-Chairs are also responsible for dissemination of announcements from DSA’s national office and National Political Committee.
- One Co-Chair seat shall be reserved for someone who is not a cis white man. In the case no non-cis white men nominate for co-chair, the seat will remain open and can be filled by special election of an eligible member.
Section 3. Administrator.
- The Administrator will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Local Chapter, and for maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local Chapter. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair, if no Co-Chair is able to do so.
- The Administrator maintains supervision over the agenda and the taking of minutes of all Local Chapter and Executive Committee Meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local Chapter. They shall transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists.
- The Administrator shall be responsible for disseminating meeting announcements, agendas, and minutes to the membership.
Section 4. Treasurer.
The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the Local Chapter. All funds collected by the Local Chapter will be turned over to the Treasurer, who shall deposit them in a bank account under the name of the Local Chapter. In cooperation with the Administrator, 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 Chapter Convention of the Local Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Executive Committee of the Local Chapter.
Section 5. Communications Coordinator.
The Communications Coordinator will be responsible for public outreach, will initiate and maintain contact with appropriate media and groups in the Madison area about MADSA activities and positions, and for managing the social media communications of the Local Chapter.
ARTICLE VI. Executive Committee.
Section 1. Composition.
The Local Chapter Executive Committee will be composed of all the elected officers of the Local Chapter and representatives of any Local Chapter branches.
Section 2. Duties.
- The Executive Committee administers the affairs of the Local Chapter 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 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 Executive Committee is the regular executive body of the Local Chapter, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the General and Regular Meetings.
- The Local Chapter Executive 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 Executive Committee will be held at the call of one of the Co-Chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Executive Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three members of the Executive Committee. All members of the Executive Committee must (ordinarily) be given three days oral, written, or electronic notice of regular Executive Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
Section 4. Quorum.
A quorum of fifty percent of the Executive Committee is required for the transaction of Executive Committee business.
Section 5. Conflict of interest.
A conflict of interest exists when a matter to be acted upon by the Executive Committee confers a direct, substantial benefit to any Executive Committee member or to any business or agency from which a member of the Executive Committee shall gain. An Executive Committee member shall abstain from voting on any matter before the Executive Committee which places them in a conflict of interest.
Section 6. Vacancies.
Any officer may be removed by a two-thirds majority of the Executive Committee for violation of the By-laws of the organization, for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of MADSA, or by the procedures outlined in the Code of Conduct and Resolutions Procedure. Should any member of the Executive Committee miss three or more consecutive meetings, the Executive Committee may declare that position vacant by majority vote. It must notify said member of its intention to vacate the 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. An acting successor may be appointed by the Chairs until a new officer is elected at the next regularly scheduled membership meeting or at a membership meeting specially called for that purpose.
Section 7. Recall.
Members can petition to remove a member of the Executive Committee by presenting a petition signed by 10% of members. A vote will take place at the next regular meeting, which will be treated as a Chapter Convention, after the petition is delivered. The Executive Committee member in question will be immediately removed if more than half of attendees vote to recall.
Section 8. General Membership Participation.
Any general member in good standing can attend either an already scheduled Executive Committee meeting or the next available Executive Committee meeting. The member may not participate in the meeting unless called upon by a member of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee can decide to make a particular Executive Committee meeting, or a portion of any such meeting, closed to members in order to discuss sensitive matters.
ARTICLE VII. Branches.
Section 1. Definition.
A branch is a subgroup of the Local Chapter consisting of at least five members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography or language. Each branch may elect a voting representative to sit on the Local Chapter Executive 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 voting representative to the Local Chapter Executive Committee.
Section 2. Formation.
Any group of at least five (5) Members of the Local Chapter, in good standing, may request to be recognized as a Branch. They must apply to the Executive Committee in writing. Their application must include the names of its members; a description of purposes, functions, and membership criteria; and any other information deemed necessary by the Executive Committee. A majority vote of the general membership at a Meeting shall be required to establish a Branch. YDSA chapters need only show proof of being an officially recognized chapter of YDSA as part of a generic request to be recognized as a Branch of the Local Chapter, subject to approval by a majority vote of the general membership at a Meeting. Sections 3 and 4 below shall not be required of YDSA chapter-Branches.
Section 3. Structure, Membership, and Elections
Each Branch shall have its own bylaws explicitly defining its purpose, functions, and membership criteria in detail. Such bylaws may establish the Branch’s methods and structures as long as they do not violate these bylaws. Each Branch shall be responsible for electing its leadership and Steering Committee representation. Every Local member may vote in only two Branch elections for Steering Committee representatives, although they may be a member of as many Branches as they wish. Branch leaders shall be responsible for scheduling and organizing meetings and actions of their Branch. In the event of a vacancy of a Branch leader or Steering Committee representative, the Branch may vote to elect new leadership or Steering Committee representation. Each Branch shall maintain an official membership list.
Section 4. Dissolution
A Branch may have its status revoked by a majority vote of the membership at a Chapter Convention. A Branch may also choose to dissolve itself by means specified in its Branch Bylaws. In the event that a Branch chooses to split into several new Branches, each new Branch must apply for membership through the same method as creating any Branch, although the Steering Committee may choose to waive requirements for certain documentation if it is identical to the prior or parent Branch.
ARTICLE VIII. Working Groups.
Section 1. Definition.
The Local Chapter will have Working Groups, which will consist of a group of Local Chapter members in good standing. Working groups can be formed to address operational needs, run campaigns, or organize work around a particular issue over an indefinite period of time.
Section 2. Formation
To establish a working group, a group of no less than five Local Chapter members in good standing must submit a charter that includes a group name, a mission statement or objectives, any limitations on working group membership, and an acting chair until the co-chairs can be decided upon democratically. The members must make their charter available to Local Chapter members at least one week (7 days) prior to a General, Membership, or Emergency Meeting before the working group’s charter may be voted on. A majority vote will establish the charter and creation of a working group. Chartered working groups shall have the authority to create events and release communications in MADSA’s name. Endorsements must proceed through the process outlined in Article X. No working group may be chartered for more than one (1) year. Successive charters may be granted upon expiration by motion to the Membership Meeting.
Section 3. Leadership of Working Groups
Membership in a working group shall be open to all Local Chapter members in good standing unless the committee’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 committee shall hold elections for two (2) working group 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 self-identify as cis-male unless no women or non-binary members run for Co-Chair (once elected, a Co-Chair will fill out their full term). In the event of a vacant Co-Chair position, the working group shall elect a replacement Co-Chair to fill the remainder of the former Co-Chair’s term.
Section 4. Duties.
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 committee’s points of contact to the membership. Committees 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 group that cannot be resolved between them, it shall be resolved at a Meeting.
A working group’s activities shall be reviewed by the Steering Committee at its meetings, and meeting minutes and other committee documentation, as well as all financial receipts and statements, shall be kept up to date with the Local Chapter’s Administrator and Treasurer respectively. Working groups shall report on their activities to the membership at the Annual Meeting or more frequently at Regular or Special Meetings as necessary.
Section 5. Dissolution.
A working group can dissolve itself by majority vote, or by charter if the working group is temporary in nature. Dissolution of a working group can also be proposed by either a vote of the Executive Committee or a proposal of dissolution presented by no fewer than five Local Chapter members in good standing. The notice of vote for dissolution must be presented at least one week (7 days) prior to a General, Membership, or Emergency Meeting to be eligible for voting. A majority vote will dissolve the working group.
Section 6. Suspension of Charter
The Executive Committee shall have the authority to suspend a working group’s charter for good cause. A suspended charter must be brought to the next Membership meeting for consideration, including a vote to either continue or lift the suspension, or dissolve the charter.
ARTICLE IX. Elections and Nominations.
Section 1. Elections Committee.
A three-person Elections Committee shall be established at least one month prior to every election by vote of a Regular Meeting. It shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected, with care to ensure a diverse slate of nominees. The Elections Committee shall also be tasked with deciding the specific voting procedures for the election.
Section 2. Nominations Process.
Nominations for Local Chapter officers and delegates to the National Convention shall be opened 10 days before and closed at the election meeting. The call for nominations shall be announced to all members in good standing of DSA as soon as nominations are open.
Section 4. Uncontested Positions.
If a position is uncontested, the nominee may be declared elected by acclamation. If any member objects to such election by acclamation, members must vote “yes” or “no” for the nominee.
ARTICLE X. Endorsements.
Section 1. Electoral Endorsements
The General Membership in a Regular or Chapter Convention is the only body authorized to make electoral endorsements on behalf of the Local Chapter. Unless otherwise authorized, members or committees of MADSA are prohibited from campaigning as representatives of DSA for candidates or ballot measures that the Local has not officially endorsed.
Section 2. Endorsements of Actions
The Executive Committee shall be authorize to endorse activist events, urgent actions, or make statements in support of activist campaigns on behalf of the chapter.
Section 3. Endorsements of Campaigns
The General Membership in a Regular or Chapter Convention shall be the only body authorized to endorse Local Chapter participation in a long-term activist campaign.
ARTICLE XI. Amendments.
Section 1. Notice of Proposed Amendments or Changes
Any member wishing to amend or change these bylaws must submit a draft of such amendment or change to a regularly scheduled membership meeting or the Chapter Convention. Discussion and vote on such amendment or change shall take place at the next regularly scheduled meeting and shall be listed on the meeting agenda which is received by the membership at least three (3) days in advance of the meeting.
Section 2. Vote
These bylaws may be amended, repealed or altered in whole or in part by a two-thirds vote of any membership meeting at which there is a quorum.
Section 3. Notification of Changes in ByLaws
MADSA members must be notified of any changes to these by-laws within fourteen (14) days via written communication.
ARTICLE XII. Rules of the Local Chapter.
Section 1. Rules.
The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall 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.
ARTICLE XIII. Dissolution.
In the event of dissolution of the organization, any residual assets shall become property of the national DSA.