Local & Branch Meetings

Lead Contact: Tal Levy

ARTICLE IV, SECTION 2: LOCAL MEETINGS

The Local will hold a single Local-­wide meeting at least three times annually. Any resolution or proposal properly qualified by member signatures brought to the Steering Committee ten (10) days prior to a Local Meeting shall be published and agendized for a vote. Local Meetings will be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order, Simplified and Applied, amended to allow for remote­ or proxy voting and progressive stack.

Bylaws Amendments and Priority Resolutions may not be submitted for consideration at Local Meetings. The time and place of Local­-wide meetings shall be announced by the Steering Committee at least two (2) weeks prior to the meeting and distributed to all Members in Good Standing.

Section 3.2. Branch Local Meetings

The Local will hold simultaneous BranchLocal Meetings at least foursix times annually, ideally every other month, unless Local business requires additional meeting times. The time and place of which shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee will set the agenda for Branch Local Meetings. The Local Branch Meetings areis the body where policies, decisions, and important Local matters are discussed among members.

Explanation

As currently constituted, DSA Los Angeles’ general meetings are completely unlike those of most other chapters, because chapter­wide business is generally not conducted at them — occasionally questions are debated and then voted on out­of­meeting digitally. This pattern of meeting emerged in 2017 when DSA-­LA was struggling to manage massive growth in an organization that didn’t previously follow any clear set of decision making procedures. It’s created a dynamic where general branched meetings are a place primarily for members to receive information: updates on various projects, reportbacks on big initiatives, etc, or to sign up for new initiatives and committees, but not a place where decisions are made.

This choice evolved due to the pre­existence of local committees, which already had their own traditions, patterns of work and decision-­making in place. Rather than starting from scratch, DSA-­LA allowed Local Subgroups to decide the bulk of the work of the chapter, while the organization at­-large would exist to tie these Subgroups together.

However, for DSA­-LA to evolve beyond an active network of tightly-­related organizers, we need to create democratic structures by which all members regularly come together and make decisions about the wider direction of the chapter. By having such general meetings quarterly, we can retain the structure of branched chapter meetings (i.e., reporting on major initiatives, connecting new members to work), while having a democratic space that allows all our comrades to shape work and own that work.

This amendment would retain existing branched chapter meetings, while also creating a space for more, chapter-­wide direct democracy. Existing branch meetings will still be able to address certain chapter-­wide decisions as previously, but quarterly general meetings would run according to a set rules of order explicitly designed to discuss business. Provisions that allow for proxy voting or remote voting are not perfect solutions, but will alleviate the geographical issues of having a single meeting for the wide geography of DSA-­LA. As written and in keeping with our current practices, the frequencies written into these bylaws are minimums, and Steering Committee is empowered to call more meetings, branched or otherwise, if chapter business necessitates them more frequently (e.g., candidate endorsements).

This structure would alleviate a few key problems currently hampering DSA-­LA: primarily, a need for members to be deeply embedded in the chapter to participate meaningfully in its direction. Less-involved members attend our branch meetings, but don’t often have further involvement for a variety of reasons, and unless they attend Local Subgroup meetings don’t participate deeply in the chapter’s decision making. More ­involved members often find themselves stretched incredibly thin to attend numerous committee meetings to have a say in chapter projects in which they don’t directly organize participate. Additionally, these meetings would create a space wherein the general membership can override Subgroup decision­-making or negotiate inter­Subgroup conflicts as necessary, without requiring that Local Subgroups solicit full membership approval for new initiatives or major decisions.

As written, this amendment is vague on the specifics of remote voting. It may be feasible with adequate A/V equipment to hold a single meeting across multiple locations to enable remote participation beyond just voting, and amendments to that effect are invited. This amendment is intended to be complementary to other amendment(s) codifying the existence of DSA-­LA branches.

ORGANIZATIONAL PRIORITIES THAT SUPPORT THIS AMENDMENT PROPOSAL

  • Build organizational structures that can support and manage anticipated growth of the chapter.
  • Maintain transparent decision-­making processes which allows all members to democratically shape and engage in chapter decisions, avoiding top­-heavy hierarchies and “gatekeeping”.
  • Maintain workflow systems that support and empower all members to take on significant responsibility for ongoing cross­chapter communication and collaboration.
  • 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.

Click here to view the signatories