Adopted March 17th, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Local Chapter will develop policies and procedures to provide members with reasonable protection from unwanted and unintended member information exposure.
The Local Chapter will hold a minimum of one General Meeting annually for purposes of electing officers. The General Meeting 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 General 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 General Meeting may coincide with a Regular Meeting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 General Meeting of the Local Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Executive Committee of the Local Chapter.
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.
The Local Chapter Executive Committee will be composed of all the elected officers of the Local Chapter and representatives of any Local Chapter branches.
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.
A quorum of fifty percent of the Executive Committee is required for the transaction of Executive Committee business.
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.
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.
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 General Meeting, after the petition is delivered. The Executive Committee member in question will be immediately removed if more than half of attendees vote to recall.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Branch may have its status revoked by a majority vote of the membership at a General Meeting. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The General Membership in a Regular or General Meeting 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.
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.
The General Membership in a Regular or General Meeting shall be the only body authorized to endorse Local Chapter participation in a long-term activist campaign.
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 General Meeting. 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.
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.
MADSA members must be notified of any changes to these by-laws within fourteen (14) days via written communication.
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.
Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local Chapter in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.
In the event of dissolution of the organization, any residual assets shall become property of the national DSA.