Article I. Name and Purpose
The name of this organization shall be the New York City Democratic Socialists of America (“the Local”). Its jurisdiction shall be the five boroughs of New York City, or such other jurisdiction as may be conferred by National DSA. Its purposes shall be consistent with those of National DSA.
Article II. Membership
Section 1: Definition. The Membership of New York City DSA shall be composed of all DSA members residing within the jurisdiction of the Local. DSA members shall be defined to include all people who have paid dues to the National organization within the last two years or who have paid lifetime dues. Members in good standing will include all DSA members who have paid dues within the last year or who have paid lifetime dues. All Local members in good standing shall have full and equal rights of membership.
Section 2: Suspension or expulsion. Pursuant to Article III, Section 4 of the National DSA constitution, the Steering Committee shall have the power to suspend or expel members from the Local, or to suspend or remove officers of branches, working groups, or other official local groups approved by the Steering Committee. Members can be suspended or expelled if they are found to have harassed or acted violently against another member; if they are found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization; if they consistently engage in undemocratic, disruptive behavior; or if they are under the discipline of any self-defined democratic-centralist organization, and/or if a grievance is sustained against them through any grievance procedure established by the Local. Members facing suspension or expulsion must receive written notice of charges against them at least fifteen days before a meeting of the Steering Committee and must be given the opportunity to be heard before the Steering Committee. A two-thirds vote is required to suspend or expel a member. The Steering Committee will only have the power to suspend or expel a member from the Local. Only the National organization shall have the power to suspend or expel a member from the National organization. Decisions on suspension or expulsion may be appealed at the Local Convention or by Special Meeting. Any member may be temporarily suspended from membership or removed from officer positions in the Local, including branch, working group, and/or other official local group leadership offices, pending a grievance procedure or other investigation, without advance notice, by a two-third vote of the Steering Committee, where good cause exists for such temporary suspension or removal.
Section 3: Dues. The Steering Committee shall have the authority to decide to raise annual dues from members of the Local. Dues shall be specified in the Bylaws, and require a two-thirds vote of the Steering Committee or a majority vote of those at the Local Convention to be changed.
Article III. Basic Organization and Conventions
Section 1: General Membership. Conventions and Special Meetings of the Local, at which the General Membership shall be represented by elected delegates, shall be the highest body of the organization; providing that Special Meetings shall have the authority to deal with only those matters for which they may be called. Between Conventions, Special Meetings, and meetings of the Citywide Leadership Committee, the Steering Committee shall be responsible for the administration of the organization and the implementation of policies formulated by the General Membership and the Citywide Leadership Committee.
Section 2: Conventions. The Local shall meet in Convention in even-numbered years during the last six months of the year unless the Citywide Leadership Committee approves another date. The Convention shall meet to elect officers and to debate and decide primarily, but not exclusively, Local issues, the political orientation of the organization, and program direction. The Convention date and all associated deadlines must be announced to the general membership at least 3 months before the date of the Convention. A process for proposal submission, proposal amendments, proposal reconciliation, and delegate election must be included in the Convention announcement.
Section 3: Chapter-wide Conference. In odd-numbered years, the Steering Committee will be tasked with planning a conference, or series of events, open to all members of the Chapter, with the goal of providing space for political education, assessment of the organization’s work, strategic discussion, and voting to approve the chapter’s tasks and perspectives document. The Steering Committee will put forward a tasks and perspectives document outlining the chapter’s political and strategic orientations, as well as the chapter’s short, medium and long term goals. Any amendments with at least 30 dues paying NYC-DSA signatories will be eligible to be debated and voted on by the chapter. The Steering Committee may also use this opportunity to provide fora for consideration of the Officers to be elected that year.
Section 4: Special Meetings. By call of forty percent of the Steering Committee or ten percent of members, a Special Meeting shall be called, with notice given to all members at least thirty days prior to the meeting. The call to the Special Meeting shall specify the matters to be discussed therein and no other matter may be brought to the floor.
Section 5: Voting. Every member of the Local shall have the right to vote for and run to be a delegate to Conventions or Special Meetings of the Local, National Conventions, elections for branch steering committee representatives, branch CLC representatives. The Steering Committee may also vote to allow representation for Young Democratic Socialists of America chapters at Convention. Every member of the Local shall also have the right to vote in branch-based votes related to citywide electoral endorsements. These elections will be known collectively as Citywide Internal Votes.
Electronic ballots must be made available to all members for all Citywide Internal Votes. Coordination of these votes will be the responsibility of the NYC-DSA Steering Committee’s Membership Coordinator and Co-Chairs, who can also delegate responsibilities to other members of the Steering Committee, and/or to a group voted on by a majority of the Steering Committee.
Each registered voter must register their voting membership with one primary branch, whether it is a geographic branch or Labor Branch. Registration will be made available as part of each online ballot, and will not require any additional steps. The primary branch will be the one branch in which a member will vote for citywide convention delegates, steering committee representatives, and CLC representatives. Members whose primary branch is geographic will also vote in this branch for the purposes of Citywide Electoral Endorsements. Members whose primary branch is Labor can register for a secondary Geographic branch, which will be the branch in which they vote for Citywide Electoral Endorsements. No additional requirements will be made to register with any branch for the purposes of Citywide Internal Votes. Members may request to transfer their voting registration from one primary branch to another primary branch at any time, provided that they have not voted in the Citywide Internal Vote in another branch within the previous 30 days.
Each Branch shall elect a diverse body of delegates, in proportion to the Branch’s number of dues-paying members. Elected delegates must be members in good standing at the time of the Convention. Members shall have the ability to renew DSA dues at the start of the Convention.
Section 6: Rules. All resolutions and officer reports presented to the Local’s membership at the Convention will allow for a question and answer period to be followed by speakers wishing to voice their opinions. Number of speakers and speaking time will be limited to fit within the Convention’s time constraints. Otherwise, all rules covering the conduct of a Convention or Special Meeting shall be set by the Steering Committee or a committee it appoints for that purpose, and shall be subject to modification and approval by the membership at the meeting.
Section 7: Quorum. A quorum of sixty percent of elected delegates shall be required for the start of valid meetings of the Convention or Special Meeting.
Article IV. Citywide Leadership Committee
Section 1: Definition. The Citywide Leadership Committee (Leadership Committee) shall consist of Delegates from each of the Branches, Citywide Priority Campaigns, and the officers of the Local. Young Democratic Socialists of America will be allotted two representatives, one of which will be the Young Democratic Socialists of America Representative on the Steering Committee. There shall be no more than 30 Branch Delegates on the Leadership Committee, not including the officers of the Local and the two Young Democratic Socialists of America Representatives. Each Citywide Priority Campaign will be allotted one nonvoting representative. Branch Representatives to the Steering Committee shall automatically be one of the Branch Delegates to the Leadership Committee for their Branch. 50% (rounded up) of Branch Representatives to the Leadership Committee, including the Steering Committee delegate, will also sit on the Branch OC. The exact number of Delegates allotted to each Branch shall be determined yearly by the Steering Committee within 20 days following the Local Convention and based on the membership numbers determined at the time of the convention. The exact number of Citywide Priority Campaign representatives shall be determined by the number of campaigns endorsed by the Local.
Section 2: Responsibilities. The Leadership Committee shall be the political leadership of NYC-DSA in between Conventions. It shall ratify and direct the work of the Steering Committee.
Section 3: Meetings. The Leadership Committee shall meet at least twice between Conventions. Leadership Committee meetings shall be organized by the Steering Committee with approval from the Leadership Committee. An emergency meeting of the Leadership Committee may be called by the Steering Committee or a majority of the Leadership Committee.
Section 4: Elections. Elections of Steering Committee Representatives and Branch Leadership Committee Delegates shall be held in the Branches approximately one month after the Local Convention or conference and after the Steering Committee has determined the number of Delegates for each Branch. These elections shall concur with Branch elections for Organizing Committee and Steering Committee Representative, except in circumstances where unavoidable or approved by a vote of the Steering Committee.
A portion of the CLC delegates (including the SC Representative) from each Branch will also sit on the Branch’s Organizing Committee. This portion is equal to 50% – rounded up – of the sum of the Branch’s total CLC delegates plus the One Representative to the Steering Committee. CLC Delegate election ballots will have unique candidates for Branch OC and non-Branch OC seats.
Each Branch shall also elect up to five Alternate Delegates at the time Delegates are elected. The number of Alternate Delegates to be elected for each Branch shall be decided by that Branch’s Organizing Committee, as fits the needs of their Branch. The Alternate Delegates shall be ranked one, two, three, etc. Branch Alternate Delegates shall be called upon to replace absent Branch Delegates in the order that they are ranked.
Delegates to the Leadership Committee may be removed from their position for malfeasance upon a two-thirds vote of the branch. In such a case, the first ranked Alternate Delegate shall become the Delegate and so on and so forth. Additionally, Branch Delegates to the Leadership Committee that are removed are also removed from the Branch’s Organizing Committee.
Appointments of Citywide Priority Campaign Leadership Committee Representatives shall be made approximately one month after the Local Convention. Representatives will be appointed by the Organizing Committee of the respective Citywide Priority Campaign or working group. This process shall concur with Branch elections for Organizing Committee and Steering Committee Representative, except in circumstances where unavoidable or approved by a vote of the Steering Committee. In the event that a Citywide Priority Campaign is endorsed in between Conventions, the Organizing Committee of that campaign or working group will approve a representative approximately one month after the campaign is endorsed.
Delegates to the Leadership Committee may be removed from their position for malfeasance upon a two-thirds vote of the branch. In such case, the first ranked Alternate Delegate shall become the Delegate and so on and so forth.
Section 5: Diversity. In electing and appointing its delegation to the Leadership Committee, Branches and Citywide Priority Campaigns shall consider diversity and assure that their delegations are diverse in terms of racial and ethnic identity, gender and sexual identity, age, and class.
Section 6: Quorum. A quorum of the Leadership Committee shall be sixty percent of the body.
Section 7: Branch Recommendations. Before any proposal pertaining to Campaigns or Chapter Strategy is to be considered by the Leadership Committee, the proposal must be recommended by at least one Branch. Proposals can be brought forward by any member of the Branch after receiving the endorsement of one CLC member and three Branch members. In order for the recommendation to be valid, the endorsement must be recommended by fifty percent of members voting. Quorum shall be a number of members equal to the average attendance of the last 4 Branch’s General Meetings. Notice must be sent to members of the Branch at least a week in advance that an endorsement will be presented at a Branch’s General Meeting. An in-person, hybrid, or online vote may commence only after the endorsement has been discussed at a branch meeting. Once a Branch recommends a proposal, it goes to the Citywide Leadership Committee. The Branch Delegates to the Leadership Committee from the Branch recommending the proposal must motivate the proposal recommended by their branch.
Article V. Steering Committee
Section 1: Definition. The Steering Committee shall consist of:
a) The officers of the Local: the two Cochairs, the Treasurer, the Secretary, the Membership Coordinator, the Campaigns Coordinator, the Tools & Training Coordinator, and the Communications Coordinator.
b) One representative elected from each Branch of the Local.
c) At-large members, to be appointed at the discretion of the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee may not appoint more than three at-large members.
Section 2: Responsibilities.
a) The Steering Committee shall meet as a whole at least six times annually (in person or by conference call). It shall concern itself primarily with the development of political strategy and plans to be presented annually at the Local Convention for debate and vote. The Steering Committee will also be responsible for staffing, office space, and major Local financial expenses.
b) The Steering Committee will coordinate and direct all Local-wide activities in New York City, as well as oversee the Local’s communications and media. It may delegate any of these activities to subcommittees or groups of NYC-DSA.
c) The Steering Committee is responsible for chartering new Working Groups and cultural organizations.
d) The Steering Committee will be responsible for carrying out National DSA’s priorities in New York City.
e) The Steering Committee, working with relevant committees, must publish or deliver an annual report describing the accomplishments of the previous year and setting forth the plans and goals for the Local in the coming year.
Section 3: Officers. The officers of the Local shall be two Cochairs, a Treasurer, a Secretary, a Membership Coordinator, the Campaigns Coordinator, the Tools & Training Coordinator, and the Communications Coordinator.
a) The Cochairs shall be the chief spokespeople of the organization. They shall preside over all Conventions and Special Meetings of the Local and the Steering Committee, shall have responsibility for overall direction and management of the organization, and shall interpret the Constitution and Bylaws, subject to appeal to the Steering Committee. At least one of the Cochairs must be a woman.
b) The Treasurer shall be responsible for the acquisition, stewardship, and dispensation of money and material goods for the Local. The Treasurer shall have custody of all funds of the organization and shall be responsible for the financial management of the organization. They shall be responsible for authorizing all expenditures in accordance with the wishes of the Steering Committee (in the case of expenditures over $500, prior approval must be sought from the Steering or Administrative Committee), and shall organize fundraising and dues collection, should the Local decide to collect dues. They shall also be responsible for compliance with any financial regulations the Local organization is subject to. To carry out these responsibilities, functional Working Groups dealing with any of the above shall be placed under the oversight of the Treasurer, through which these functional Working Groups will be responsible to the Steering Committee.
c) The Secretary shall be responsible for maintaining accurate membership lists, and for keeping minutes and records of all Conventions and Special Meetings of the Local. They shall also be responsible for informing the Steering Committee and the membership of all Conventions and Special Meetings.
d) The Membership Coordinator shall be responsible for matters dealing with the recruitment, development, and mobilization of the Local’s membership. This includes the keeping of a database of members, conducting a census, driving diversity efforts, as well as any tasks assigned to the role by the Steering Committee. To carry out these responsibilities, functional Working Groups dealing with outreach, education, or mobilization of members will be placed under the oversight of the Membership Coordinator, through which these functional Working Groups will be responsible to the Steering Committee.
e) The Campaign Coordinator shall work with the Local’s issue-based campaigns to ensure their campaign plans are executed in a way that maximizes each campaign’s effectiveness at key points of escalation. The campaign coordinator shall also work with issue or campaign-based Working Groups to make sure they have support from the Steering Committee. They shall also be responsible for keeping the Steering Committee, the Citywide Leadership Committee, and the membership informed of the issue or campaign-based Working Groups’ projects.
Section 4: Administrative Committee. The officers of the Local will serve as an Administrative Committee between meetings of the Steering Committee and have the power to make any necessary decisions.
Section 5: Diversity. At least two officers of the Local must be women, and at least two officers of the Local must be people of color. If the elected officers of the Local do not meet these requirements, the Steering Committee must appoint additional at-large members of the Steering Committee as soon as possible to fulfill these requirements. The Steering Committee should also consider appointing at-large members to increase its diversity if the elected Branch representatives are overwhelmingly of one identity.
Section 6: Vacancies. In the event that there is a vacancy in an officer position, the Citywide Leadership Committee shall have the power to fill the vacancy by majority vote.
Section 7: Removal. Any member of the Steering Committee who misses two consecutive meetings without an acceptable reason shall be removed from the committee and their position declared vacant. Members of the Steering Committee may also be removed for gross incompetence or malfeasance. A three-quarters majority vote of the Citywide Leadership Committee is required to remove a member of the Steering Committee.
Section 8: Quorum. A quorum of fifty percent shall be required for a valid meeting of the Administrative Committee, and a quorum of three members or fifty percent, whichever is higher, required for a valid meeting of the Steering Committee.
Section 9: Eligibility. While New York City or New York State elected representatives are welcome to be members of NYC-DSA, they are not eligible to be on the Steering Committee.
Article VI. Election of Officers
Section 1: Nominations. All Officers of the Steering Committee shall be elected at the Local’s Convention on those years in which a full, delegated Convention takes place. In years in which a full, delegated Convention does not take place, the Steering Committee shall, during the second half of the year, prepare an online vote of members in good standing to elect Officers whose terms shall last until the subsequent Convention. Nominations to run for the Steering Committee must be submitted to the outgoing Steering Committee in advance of the Convention. Any member may nominate another member in good standing for elected position in the Local.
Section 2: Process. There shall be a separate vote for each contested office at the Local Convention in the order that the offices are listed in Article V. The Steering Committee will be responsible for ensuring that elections are held and for fulfilling the diversity requirements spelled out in Article V, Section 5.
Section 3. Election of Branch representatives. Representatives from Branches will be elected no later than one month after the Local Convention concurrently with elections for Branch Organizing Committee and Steering Committee Representative.They will serve for approximately one year. Branches shall have the right to recall their representative and replace them, and will also be responsible for replacing their representative should they no longer be able to serve on the Steering Committee.
Article VII. Branches
Section 1: Definition. The Local may subdivide its jurisdiction into Branches for the purpose of creating smaller membership bodies that meet regularly. The purpose of a Branch will be to carry out the Local’s campaigns and to debate and discuss the organization’s political strategy. Any group of eight or more Local members of NYC-DSA, in good standing, may be recognized by the Steering Committee as a Branch. A Branch can define itself by geography, shared interest, or membership in an institution. A group of members seeking to establish itself as a Branch must apply to the Local’s Steering Committee in writing, including the names of its members; a description of purposes, functions, and membership criteria; and other information deemed necessary by the Steering Committee. A majority vote of the Steering Committee will be required to establish a Branch.
Section 2: Responsibilities. Each Branch shall maintain an official membership list. The Steering Committee will, from time to time, review the status of Branches to insure that they are in minimum compliance with the Constitution.
Section 3: Representatives. Every Branch shall elect one of its members to a seat on the Local’s Steering Committee. Every Local member may vote in only one Branch election for Steering Committee representative. Young Democratic Socialists of America chapters in New York City may jointly elect one representative, who will serve as their representative on the Leadership Committee.
Section 4: Revoking status. A Branch may have its status revoked by a majority plus one vote of the Steering Committee following a hearing open to all Local members.
Section 5: Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) Representation. Branches with YDSA chapters in their geographic region are required to add a voting YDSA representative to their Organizing Committee. The YDSA Representative will be jointly elected by members of YDSA chapters in the branch. Should a branch be unable to find someone to run for such a position, any member of the branch organizing committee may serve as a liaison to YDSA.
Section 6: Branch Organizing Committee Roles. The Branches of the Local will elect an Organizing Committee to lead the Branch concurrent with the Branch’s CLC elections (which include CLC members sitting on Branch OC). The Organizing Committee will have the following mutually exclusive positions: number of Committee Delegates to the Citywide Leadership Committee equal to 50% – rounded up – of the Branch’s total delegates Citywide Leadership Committee (as outlined in Article IV Section 4) one of whom must be the One Representative to the Steering Committee (as outlined in Article VII Section 3), Three Representatives to the Membership Committee, One Treasurer/Secretary, and One Campaign Coordinator. Branch Organizing Committees are encouraged to appoint non-voting members to the Organizing Committee to carry out local projects at the level of the Branch.
Article VIII: Electoral Endorsements
Section 1: Electoral Working Group Recommendation. Subject to the discretion of the Steering Committee or the Citywide Leadership Committee, the Electoral Working Group may hold a vote of the working group membership prior to the Branch endorsement votes to make recommendations to the membership on endorsements, districts and/or electoral strategy.
Section 2: Branch Recommendations. Candidates running in districts wholly contained within one geographic Branch of the Local must be recommended by the branch. In order for the recommendation to be valid, the endorsement must be recommended by sixty percent of members voting. Quorum shall be a number of members equal to the average attendance of the last 4 branch meetings. Candidates running in districts that overlap more than one Branch must be first recommended by at least half of the geographic Branches in that district. Notice must be sent to members of each relevant Branch at least a week in advance that an endorsement will be considered at a branch meeting. No online vote may commence until the endorsement has been discussed at the branch meeting. Branches are encouraged to hold an in-person vote at the meeting as long as they communicate who voted and the results to those administering the election. Once a sufficient number of Branches recommends an endorsement, it goes to an Endorsement Meeting of the Local or to the Citywide Leadership Committee, as outlined in Section 4.
Section 3: Voting Eligibility: One must be a member in good standing of National DSA for at least 3 months to be eligible to participate in any branch or chapter-wide endorsement. Expired members shall have the ability to renew DSA dues at the endorsement meeting or during the online vote. Current campaign and/or legislative staff, or anyone applying for a job or in the hiring process, of a politician either currently in or seeking the office at hand would be barred from voting in endorsements of that office, as would the politician themselves.
Section 4: Endorsement Meetings. Ballot measures and candidates for office may only be endorsed by the Local at specified Endorsement Meetings. All candidates being considered, along with their staffers, must leave the room during debate or discussion. Endorsement Meetings shall include each annual convention, meetings of the Citywide Leadership Committee, or other Endorsement Meetings as called by the Citywide Leadership Committee. A sixty percent majority of voting members or delegates in favor is necessary for an endorsement at an Endorsement Meeting. An Endorsement Meeting must be held within four weeks of a Branch recommendation vote.
Section 5: Bylaws. Bylaws may be enacted to impose further requirements on electoral endorsements, including but not limited to electoral working group recommendations prior to an electoral endorsement and quorum and other requirements for branch endorsements.
Article IX: General Provisions
Section 1: Interpretation. This Constitution shall be interpreted by the Steering Committee, subject only to appeal to the Local Convention or a Special Meeting. The interpretation of the Local Convention or Special Meeting shall be final.
Section 2: Rules. Unless otherwise voted upon by a meeting, Robert’s Rules, newly revised (referred to also as “Robert’s Rules”) shall govern the conduct of all Conventions and Special Meetings.
Section 3: Notifications. All requirements for giving notice to the membership can be met by both sending emails and posting to social media.
Article X: Amendments and Bylaws
Section 1: Amendments. This Constitution may be amended by a sixty percent majority of those present at the Local Convention or Special Meeting called for that purpose, provided that notice of such amendments must be given no less than fifteen days prior. Subsequent to a Convention or a Special Meeting at which multiple constitutional amendments are enacted, the Citywide Leadership Committee may appoint a reconciliation committee if necessary to reconcile those amendments. Such reconciliation committee may not make substantive changes to the amendments or to this Constitution except as necessary to implement the intended constitutional changes made by the Convention or the Meeting. The changes proposed by such committee must be approved by an 70% vote of the CLC members in attendance to take effect.
Section 2: Bylaws. The Bylaws may be amended by a majority of those present at the Local Convention or Special Meeting or by a two-thirds vote of the Citywide Leadership Committee.