Procedural Rules for Local Subgroups

Lead Contact: Tal Levy

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:
Internal Resource Committees, Issue-based Committees, and Campaign-based Working Groups, and Caucuses.

All Local Subgroups are required to have a platform and mission statement, developed by the committee in accordance with Local policy and ratified by a Local-wide vote (see Article V, Section 6), and at least two officers elected by the committee (see Article V, Section 7). At least one of those officers must be designated as Chair, whose primary responsibilities will be ensuring that the Committee is fulfilling its required tasks and duties aligned with its platform, and another must be designated as Coordinator, whose primary responsibilities will be coordinating and communicating with other Committee and Working Group Coordinators as well as the Steering Committee about the progress of Committee work.

All Local Subgroups are required to maintain a publicly-available rules of order — where a "rules of order" is defined to include any set of explicit, formally codified, and democratically amendable decision-making procedures—which they shall be required to use for facilitating their meetings. The default set of rules for each Subgroup shall be "Rusty’s Rules of Order, amended for DSA-LA Local Subgroups.”

To maintain active Local Subgroup designation, Subgroups must:

  • Have at least one member responsible for onboarding and screening new members, engaging in member retention efforts, and coordinating with the Membership Committee.
  • Have at least one member working with the Communications Director to ensure that Local communications accurately reflect and amplify Committee work.
  • Hold meetings a minimum of once per month, open to all members of the Local.
  • Have a clear campaign goal and defined strategy, and regularly organize events and projects accordingly.
  • Maintain and make available to Local leadership records of key debates and decisions, including coalition partnerships

Section 2. Internal Resource Committees

Internal Resource Committees shall be Local Subgroups organized around a particular expertise, trade, set of Local goals, or area of knowledge or study and shall exist to provide resources in their areas of expertise to the Local at large. The primary activities of an Internal Resource Committee shall be internally focused: providing resources, tools, and training materials to the members of the local as well as assistance and expertise to campaigns, projects, and events initiated by or in conjunction with Issue-based Committees and Campaign-Based Working Group.

All Internal Resource Committees are required to have a platform and mission statement, developed by the committee in accordance with Local policy and ratified by a Local-wide vote (see Article V, Section 6), and at least two officers elected by the committee (see Article V, Section 7). At least one of those officers must be designated as Chair, whose primary responsibilities
will be ensuring that the Committee is fulfilling its required tasks and duties aligned with the platform, and another must be designated as Coordinator, whose primary responsibilities will be coordinating and communicating with other Committee and Working Group Coordinators as well as the Steering Committee about the progress of Committee work.

To maintain active Local Subgroup designation, Internal Resource Committees must:

  • Have at least one member responsible for onboarding and screening new members, engaging in member retention efforts, and coordinating with the Membership Committee
  • Have at least one member working with the Communications Director to ensure that Local communications accurately reflect and amplify Committee work
  • Hold meetings a minimum of once per month, open to all members of the Local
  • Maintain and make available to Local leadership records of key debates and decisions

Section 3. Issue-Based Committees

Issue-based Committees will be established to maintain ongoing Local engagement and education around a core political issue by organizing discrete campaigns, events, and projects related to that issue. Issue-based Committees, as well as Campaign Working Groups, are the primary political units of the Local and they are to set specific political stances for the Local by undertaking initiatives in accordance with their platforms and mission statements.

All Issue-based Committees are required to have a platform and mission statement, developed by the committee in accordance with Local policy and ratified by a Local-wide vote (see Article V, Section 6), and at least two officers elected by the committee (see Article V, Section 7). At least one of those officers must be designated as Chair, whose primary responsibilities will be ensuring that the Committee is fulfilling its required tasks and duties aligned with its platform, and another must be designated as Coordinator, whose primary responsibilities will be coordinating and communicating with other Committee and Working Group Coordinators as well as the Steering Committee.To maintain active Local Subgroup designation, Issue-based Committees must:

  • Have at least one member responsible for onboarding and screening new members, engaging in member retention efforts, and coordinating with the Membership Committee
  • Have at least one member working with the Communications Director to ensure that Local communications accurately reflect and amplify Committee work
  • Hold meetings a minimum of once per month, open to all members of the Local
  • Maintain and make available to Local leadership records of key debates
    and decisions

Section 4. Campaign-Based Working Groups

Campaign-based Working Groups will be established to organize around a single campaign and/or goal, with a defined strategy, purpose, and endpoint, and whose work does not fall squarely under the purview of any single Issue-based Committee. Such Working Groups will build external partnerships and emphasize coordination and engagement with Issue-based and Internal Resource Committees, as appropriate.

All Campaign-based Working Groups are required to have a platform and mission statement, developed by the committee in accordance with Local policy and ratified by a Local-wide vote (see Article V, Section 6), and at least two officers elected by the committee (see Article V, Section 7). At least one of those officers must be designated as Chair, whose primary responsibilities will be ensuring that the Committee is fulfilling its required tasks and duties aligned with its platform, and another must be designated as Coordinator, whose primary responsibilities will be coordinating and communicating with other Committee and Working Group Coordinators as well as the Steering Committee.

To maintain active Local Subgroup designation, Campaign-based Working Groups must:

  • Have at least one member responsible for onboarding and screening new members, engaging in member retention efforts, and coordinating with the Membership Committee
  • Have at least one member working with the Communications Director to ensure that Local communications accurately reflect and amplify Committee work
  • Hold meetings a minimum of once per month, open to all members of the Local
  • Maintain and make available to Local leadership records of key debates
    and decisions

Section 5. Caucuses

Caucuses will be established to organize independently around shared interests and identities. Caucuses are not considered Local Subgroups. Their activities can be far more varied than Committees and Working Groups, and may take on a be far more varied than Committees and Working Groups, and may take on a number of different projects or functions in relation to Local, committee, and working group goals, including but not limited to promoting certain policies or actions, planning independent events, and challenging existing Local policies.

Caucuses are required to identify a point person for the rest of the Local, who will serve as the main contact for other Groups and the Steering Committee. Caucuses are not eligible to receive Local resources, including funding or ongoing access to posting on Local public-facing communications channels. They also cannot propose a Local-wide endorsement as a group, and would instead need to partner with an Internal Resource Committee, Issue-based Committee, or Campaign-based Working Group or submit the proposal as individual members (as outlined in Article VI, Section 3).

Attachment: DSA-LA Subgroup Basic Rules of Order

Explanation

This amendment consolidates the requirements of Local Subgroups for clarity, explicitly excludes caucuses from the designation of Local Subgroup, and creates an additional requirement for Subgroups: that they have a public and amendable Rules of Order. Currently, many Subgroups meetings have no rules of order other than progressive stack and further adherence to the general DSA Code of Conduct, with success heavily reliant on the ability of committee leaders to facilitate without structure. When facilitators are operating in such a way, meetings can stray off topic and produce little or no clear actionable decisions or next steps. This creates an environment where members are unsure the extent to which they’re allowed to participate, and fosters
informal hierarchies and out-of-meeting decision-making.

With clear rules of order, members are given clear guidelines about how to engage democratically in Subgroups, decisions will be clear when they’re made, and less-experienced facilitators will have procedures to rely on to ensure meetings are productive and on task. As written, these rules allow for Subgroups to both amend or temporarily abandon (via a Motion to Suspend the Rules) these rules of order for the course of a meeting and to use alternative means of facilitation, while giving members an explicit path to return structured decision-making. Subgroups that, collectively and democratically decide they don’t need these structures can abandon them, but they would still be available to navigate areas of disagreement should they become necessary.

The rules of order attached are a slight modification on the IWW’s Rusty’s Rules of Order and have been successfully piloted in the Mutual Aid and Membership Committees over the past several months.

Committees over the past several months.

ORGANIZATIONAL PRIORITIES THAT SUPPORT THIS AMENDMENT PROPOSAL

  • Create and maintain structures and guidelines for coordinator and co-chair roles that ensure rotation of leadership and development of new leaders within the organization.
  • 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 cross-chapter communication and collaboration.
  • Commit to accountability and transparency for leadership in DSA-LA.

Click here to view signatories.