UPDATED May 25, 2020
The Steering Committee of DSA-LA is proud to announce the formation of a new Eastside/San Gabriel Valley branch. The Eastside/SGV branch will join our existing Central, San Fernando Valley, and Westside branches. 455 members voted in favor of the new branch (out of 484 votes cast). We congratulate and thank the rank and file members who organized together to put this proposal forward and the many new members who are joining DSA to make this branch possible.
Now that our new branch is founded, we need to elect coordinators to oversee the branch management and growth. If you are interested in serving as coordinator, please complete this Google form by 11:59pm on Sunday, May 31st. Elections will commence the following week.
To qualify to serve as a branch coordinator, you must reside within the designated branch boundaries, and be a DSA member in good standing as of May 24, 2020. Branch coordinators are responsible for the health and growth of DSA membership within their geographic branches, holding and facilitating regular branch meetings in collaboration with the Steering Committee, and for ensuring that branch members are engaged in the regular work of the chapter. More details included in form. If you have further questions about the position or would like to learn more, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Your Consideration: DSA-LA Eastside and San Gabriel Valley Branch!
It is with great pleasure that the DSA-LA steering committee writes to you today about an exciting development in our chapter’s history. Earlier this week we received a petition from members east of the LA River and the San Gabriel Valley asking for formal recognition as DSA-LA’s newest branch! The founding of this new branch is subject to member approval. Read on for news about how you can support the new branch, or if you have concerns about the branch and would like to express them. As a body, we will vote on the founding of this branch after our branched chapter meetings this Saturday, May 16, 2020 from 3 to 5 PM. Voting will take place online and members will have a week to vote.
As a national, multi-tendency socialist organization, the Democratic Socialists of America continue to grow at an accelerated pace. This growth shows that people are uniting to form a working class that will respond to the failures of capitalism and the political elites that vigorously defend this failing paradigm. As our national numbers grow, so too do our chapter’s. This is an encouraging sign to those of us working to democratize Los Angeles, especially during this moment of acute global crisis.
Our chapter’s charter covers a large extent of LA County. This makes organizing as a single unit difficult for several reasons, not least of which is accessibility. It is often difficult for members to be able to organize politically around events in their area or even get to meetings. In response to this challenge, DSA - Los Angeles voted at the 2018 Annual Convention to Build DSA-LA Across All Los Angeles County by segmenting the chapter into geographically organized branches. The 2018 Steering Committee worked with members to form what are now the Central, Westside, & San Fernando Valley branches.
New Branch Formation
At the 2019 Annual Convention, our chapter voted to formally include language regarding branches in our Bylaws. The language in the Bylaws provides for a process for new branches to form:
Article V. Organizational Structure, Section 2. Branches
The Steering Committee shall encourage the development of member-led initiatives to organize new branches. 50 DSA-LA members in good standing may petition the Steering Committee to form a Branch. The 50 petitioners may not include elected leadership of other Branches, and must all reside in the proposed boundaries of the Branch. One member may not be signatory to more than one proposed Branch petition simultaneously.
Given all of this, members on the Eastside and in the San Gabriel Valley have organized a member-led initiative to create a branch in their part of Los Angeles. This would create a fourth branch of DSA-LA--The Eastside/SGV Branch! Members working toward this goal have gathered over 50 signatures from Members In Good Standing in their proposed branch jurisdiction and submitted this petition for branch formation to the DSA-LA Steering Committee.
The Eastside/SGV Branch proposed would be defined generally as the geographic territory within DSA-LA’s jurisdiction currently in the Central Branch and east of the Los Angeles River. The branch jurisdictions would be as in the below map (in yellow, with remaining Central Branch zip codes in Green and San Fernando Valley Branch in Red.
What comes next?
As per Article V., Section 2 of the Bylaws, the Steering Committee has taken a vote on whether or not to move forward with the proposal. The vote resulted in approval of the petition and proposal. (Results of the vote can be viewed here.) Next, the proposal will go to a chapter-wide vote. Before the vote can take place, as per the Bylaws, time will be allocated for debate of the proposal at the next Chapter meeting. In this case the next Chapter meeting is the branched Chapter meeting happening on Saturday, May 16, 2020 from 3 to 5 PM PST. If you are interested in attending your branch meeting to provide your input during the debate, please register here. For reference, please find the relevant parts of the Bylaws below:
Article V. Organizational Structure, Section 2. Branches
The Steering Committee will then consider the petition to form a new Branch. If the Steering Committee approves the proposal, it will go to a vote of the membership with the Steering Committee’s support. If the Steering Committee rejects the proposal, 50 petitioners within the proposed boundaries must be joined by 50 petitioners outside of the proposed boundaries to petition for a vote of the whole DSA-LA membership on the question. All petitioners must be members in good standing.
Each chapter-wide vote on proposed Branch formation must be preceded by dedicated time at the Chapter Meeting, with time reserved for debate for and against the proposal. The vote passes by a simple majority, provided that at least ten percent of Chapter members participate in the vote, otherwise it fails.
In addition to discussion at the meeting, the Steering Committee will be publishing any statements submitted by members in good standing who wish to register their support or opposition. You may submit such a statement here.
After the meeting, we will send out a ballot for members to vote on the formation of this branch. This will only be sent to members in good standing (MIGS). If you would like to renew your dues with National, please click here. Note that you may also make Local Contributions here in order to support Local projects directly. Quorum for this vote will be 213 votes from members in good standing, representing 10% of the Chapter. Quorum is defined in Article IV. Local Meetings, Section 5. Quorum, of the Bylaws.
What exactly is a branch?
DSA Los Angeles currently has three regional branches: Westside, the San Fernando Valley, and "Central", which includes all zip codes that are proposed to be in the Eastside/SGV branches. At the very minimum, branches serve the purpose of hosting "branched" chapter meetings that are more accessible to different parts of the vast Los Angeles County. However, regional branches are intended to be more than just more-accessible spaces, but also to serve the purpose of distributing the practical, day-to-day organizing work from individual centralized meetings and towards distributed work rooted in our neighborhoods and communities. This redistribution is still a work in progress, but we’re making gradual progress to evolve branches from just being a meeting space for our monthly meetings, and towards branches being organizing structures in their own right – places where our members learn about and implement in the meaningful work of organizing for a better, more socialist Los Angeles.
We want to be clear though: we’re not building branches to be wholly independent political units. The geographic divisions that shape Los Angeles are deeply rooted in racism and oppression, from redlining to gentrification. We want to overcome the barriers of race, class, and ethnicity that divide our city, while organizing our members to be able to adapt to conditions in Inglewood or Venice that may be different from those in Silverlake or Altadena. DSA’s biggest strength is that we can claim over two thousand socialist members in Los Angeles county, and we’ll be at our strongest when all two thousand of those members are working towards clear common goals while being rooted in their local conditions. Accordingly, most major political and programmatic questions, like chapter priorities, the launching of new major campaigns, and electoral endorsements will still be considered at the chapter-wide level.
What does this mean for DSA-LA?
DSA Los Angeles, as a socialist organization at the center of one of the largest cities in the U.S., has an opportunity to play a tremendously powerful role in the fight against capitalism and oppression, but it’s important that our organizational infrastructure grow nimbly and strategically so that we’re better able to reach working people from all over the county, and build solidarity across the geographic, cultural, and economic lines that define it.
We believe that this proposal can expand DSA-LA’s reach to communities that have previously had limited ability to organize with us, and marks the beginning of a new chapter in DSA-LA’s history. We hope that our members will consider the proposal and help us build a stronger DSA-LA on the Eastside, in the San Gabriel Valley, and all over the county.
Steering Committee of DSA-LA and the Provisional Eastside + SGV Branch Organizing Committee