Establishing Branches in the Bylaws

Lead Contact: Steering Committee

ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP

Section 1. Membership

Members of the Los Angeles Local, DSA-LA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in parts of the Los Angeles County area allocated to the Los Angeles Local by the DSA National organization. At the local level, it will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the Local, vote on matters requiring input from the full membership, contribute to Branches and Local Subgroups, and participate in elections for the Steering Committee, Branch officers, and Local Subgroups of which they are members. Member responsibilities to National are electing delegates to the national convention, voting on matters related to national policy, and making recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of DSA. Non-members may participate in Local work and attend Local meetings, but may not run or vote in Local officer elections, Branch officer elections, Local Subgroup officer elections, or the Annual Convention.

Members of Branches will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full and reside within the prescribed boundaries of their Branch.

Members of Local Subgroups will be those individuals whose dues to the national DSA are paid in full and are active participants in the Local Subgroup.

ARTICLE IV. LOCAL MEETINGS

Section 2. Local Meetings

The Local Meeting is the primary site within which policies, decisions, and important Local matters are discussed among members. The Local will hold Local Meetings at least six times annually, ideally every other month, unless Local business requires additional meeting times. Unless otherwise determined by the Steering Committee, Local Meetings shall run concurrently within all Branches. The times, dates and sites place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee will set the agenda for Local Meetings in consultation with Branch Coordinators, and a portion of meeting time shall be reserved for Branch business to be determined by Branch Coordinators. Nothing in these bylaws shall preclude Branch Coordinators from convening Branch Meetings more frequently than called for in the schedule of Local Meetings. All Branch meetings shall be open to all Chapter members. The Local Meeting is the body where policies, decisions, and important Local matters are discussed among members.

ARTICLE V. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

Section 1. Local Subgroups

The Local shall be comprised of multiple forms of subsidiary groups, referred to collectively in this document as Local Subgroups: Branches, Internal Resource Committees, Issue-based Committees, Campaign-based Working Groups, and Caucuses.

Section 2. Branches

A Branch is a geographically defined subdivision of the chapter, not to overlap with another Branch.  All members of the chapter shall belong to one and only one Branch. The primary purpose of Branches shall be to advance the goals of the chapter, increase member participation and recruitment, and improve accessibility to DSA-LA’s work.

Branch Meetings are the instances of a Local Meeting happening within each Branch.  Branch Meetings shall be the primary regular membership meetings open to all members of the chapter.

All Branches shall be required to have at least two officers named Coordinators (see Article V, Section 8), elected by members of the Branch.  Those officers shall be responsible for ensuring that Branch meetings occur, facilitating relationship-building among Branch members, initiating geography-focused recruitment, facilitating portions of Branch meetings, and determining the content of the Branch business portion of the agenda.  Branch officers will also work in consultation with the Steering Committee to appoint additional positions as needed.

To maintain active Branch designation, Branches must hold Branch meetings in accordance with the Local Meeting schedule.

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 a signatory to more than one proposed Branch petition simultaneously.  

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 of 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 a 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.

Section 32. Internal Resource Committees

Internal Resource Committees shall be Local Subgroups [...]

Section 43. Issue-Based Committees

Issue-based Committees will be established [...]

Section 54. Campaign-Based Working Groups

Campaign-based Working Groups will be established [...]

Section 65. Caucuses

Caucuses will be established [...]

Section 76. Group Platforms

Platforms should be comprised of a mission statement [...]

Section 87. Local Subgroups Officer Elections

All Local Subgroup Officers shall be elected by the membership of the Local Subgroup and serve for a term of one year.  During local subgroup officer elections, subgroups shall facilitate election and ensure candidates and voting members are in good standing. The quorum for a Local Subgroup election shall be 25 Group Members. Voting periods must be at least one (1) week, and no longer than three (3) weeks.

[...]

Section 98. Local Subgroup Officer Recalls

Any Local Subgroup Officer may be recalled [...]

Section 109. Dissolution of Local Subgroups

Any Internal Resource Committee, Issue-Based Committee, Campaign Working Group, or Caucus Local Subgroup shall have the right to dissolve itself, for any reason, with a two-thirds majority vote of Local Subgroup members. Quorum for such a vote shall be 25 Group Members.

In the case that an Internal Resource Committee, Issue-Based Committee, or Campaign Working Group Local Subgroup is deliberately and grossly acting in contradiction to the collectively determined Local Mission and Organizational Priorities or their own ratified platform, or consistently fails to perform basic Local Subgroup duties, the Steering Committee may vote to dissolve a Local Subgroup, with a two-thirds majority vote of the Steering Committee required to execute the dissolution. The rationale and result of any such vote called must be published to the membership.

Steering Committee is the only body empowered to dissolve a Branch, and shall only do so in cases of nonfeasance, with a two-thirds majority vote of the Steering Committee. Nonfeasance of a Branch shall be defined as repeated failure of a Branch to convene a reasonable number of members at Branch Meetings.   

ARTICLE VII. LOCAL OFFICER ELECTIONS

Section 2. Elections

Election for Local and Branch Officers shall be held with voting closing at least two weeks prior to the end of the previous Officers’ terms. Elections shall be run by secret ballot. If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.

The term of office for any Local and Branch Officers shall be one year.

ARTICLE IX. STEERING COMMITTEE

Section 2. Duties

The Steering Committee’s duties shall include:

(a) Facilitating and planning meetings of the Local at least six times annually, including the Annual Convention, with Branch Coordinators as appropriate.

(b) Accepting proposals and facilitating votes for updates to the Local Mission Statement, Organizational Priorities, and Bylaws.

(c) Ensuring that the Communications Coordinator, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer have sufficient resources and help to perform their duties.

(d) Evaluating proposals and analyses in accordance with Article VI.

(e) Overseeing Local communication and coordination with other DSA Locals and responsibilities to DSA National

(f) Facilitating coordination between Local Subgroups and ensuring that all projects are executed in keeping with the Local-wide Mission Statement and Organizational Priorities.

(g) Drafting and executing Local administrative policy in accordance with the Local Organizational Priorities to ensure the smooth working of the Local

(h) Requesting and receiving regular reports from all Local Subgroup Coordinators

(i) Empowering and overseeing a fundraising committee

(j) Having a cute group Signal thread

(k) Smashing capitalism

Explanation

At our last Annual Convention, our chapter voted to create branches to advance our collective goal of building an independent, socialist political formation that represents the full diversity of LA County. Given the size of DSA-LA’s geographic jurisdiction, building branches is aligned with our commitment to grow our chapter, expand geographic representation to accurately reflect our region, and foster deeper engagement with all members. The Steering Committee was then empowered to build our first two branches — in the San Fernando Valley and on the Westside — and to implement an interim policy on branch development and governance, including appointing Branch Coordinators.

As our chapter grows, we are committed to growing strategically — to expanding our reach while preserving unity in mission, and to increasing our numbers while deepening connections and engagement with existing members. Our branch organizing has accomplished this so far by maintaining the policy-development power of our Committees, alongside new opportunities for members to engage on a hyper-local level at our branched Local meetings and other organizing opportunities, both through committees and through chapter-wide programing.

This amendment serves to codify the interim policy, which benefited from consultation with chapter leaders and rank and file members during its development. Enshrining  this policy in our governing documents commits us to the strategic development of branches outlined above.

ORGANIZATIONAL PRIORITIES THAT SUPPORT THIS AMENDMENT PROPOSAL

  • Build organizational structures that can support and manage anticipated growth of the chapter.
    • As a growing chapter, a branch structure allows for members to engage in-person across the Los Angeles region, mitigating the challenge of long travel or lack of sufficient travel resources, and ensuring greater member-to-member communication.
  • Articulate ongoing numerical benchmarks and defined paths for member engagement, ensuring that we can meet every new and experienced member where they are at.
    • Geographic diversity increases accessibility, and is encouraging for new members or curious individuals to participate without requiring the commitment of extensive travel.
  • Develop internal capacity to recruit, engage and retain our members across the racial and socioeconomic divisions of Los Angeles, and connect members to each other regionally, while also challenging instead of reifying those divisions.
    • We recognize the historical and ongoing atomization along class and racial lines across Los Angeles. Branches will further encourage deliberate engagement with communities new to DSA-LA, and better cultivate leaders in specific neighborhoods and cities to address local issues with more capacity and participation.
  • Maintain systems and protocols that enable us to continually map and understand our memberships needs, strengths, and resources.
    • Having more active members in more locations across Los Angeles provides inherent sources of information and capacity. Our aim, in nurturing branch structures, would be to build both a deeper and wider base of the Left in Southern California.

Note on implementation:

  • Pending the passage of this amendment at the Annual Convention, Branch members shall elect by simple majority interim Branch Coordinators, with a ~6 month interim terms, ending in November 2019.
  • In November 2019, Branch Coordinator elections would sync up with Local Officer elections moving forward.

Click here to view signatories