Bylaws

ARTICLE I. Name and Definitions

These are the Bylaws of the Silicon Valley Local of the Democratic Socialists of America (“Silicon Valley DSA”). Below, we use the term “Chapter” to refer to locals of DSA.

ARTICLE II. Purpose

Silicon Valley DSA seeks to build a majority movement to liberate the US from capitalism. Instead of a political-economic system serving an elite few, we envision a society based on democratic control of resources and production, and social and economic justice for all.

ARTICLE III. Membership

Section 1. Qualifications

Membership is open to dues-paying members of DSA who live or work in “Silicon Valley” (Chapter territory recognized by DSA) or nearby, who are not members of another Chapter. Voting powers and offices within Silicon Valley DSA are reserved for members.

Section 2. Dues

Membership dues are set by DSA and must be paid to the DSA National Office. Voluntary dues may be established by Silicon Valley DSA or its Branches and Caucuses, but nonpayment may not restrict membership or participation. “Good standing” is determined by DSA.

Section 3. Active Membership

Members are “active” if they have attended a Silicon Valley DSA Chapter or Branch meeting in the last four months. Notification requirements in these Bylaws only apply for active members.

Section 4. Removal

The Chapter shall expel a member from DSA if found to be (i) in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of DSA, (ii) consistently engaging in undemocratic or disruptive behavior, (iii) under the discipline of a self-defined democratic centralist org, or (iv) deliberately misrepresenting the positions of (or themselves as speaking for) DSA, the Chapter, or its parts.

A member must submit written charges to the Chapter Committee, which shall give fourteen days notice of a meeting (of the member’s Branch – if unclear, their nearest – or a Special Meeting in that Branch’s territory) and the charges. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote of Chapter members present, and may be appealed to the DSA National Political Committee.

Section 5. Code of Conduct

The Chapter may institute a Code of Conduct to elaborate on removal criteria, make recommendations on comradely behavior, and set forth grievance and mediation processes.

Section 6. Sexual Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy

Sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of such grounds as age, disability, national origin, race, religion, gender or sexual identity or orientation are antithetical to the principles of democratic socialism and to the vision and mission of Silicon Valley DSA. A member determined to have engaged in sexual harassment or inappropriate discrimination shall be deemed to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of DSA and may be considered for suspension or expulsion under Section 4 of this Article.

Silicon Valley DSA may adopt a formal policy that defines sexual harassment and inappropriate discrimination for purposes of this section and/or prescribes procedures for resolving allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate discrimination.

ARTICLE IV. Branches

Section 1. Territory

Branches are territory-based subgroups, and the Chapter’s primary democratic assembly. Territory may be reassigned by Chapter Committee consensus or a two-thirds Chapter vote.

Section 2. Charter Proposal

Members who wish to form a Branch must submit a proposed charter with (i) a Branch name; (ii) territory; and (iii) signatures of at least ten prospective members (including two initial Co-Chairs).

Section 3. Membership

Each member of Silicon Valley DSA is a member of at most one Branch, as follows:

  1. A member may explicitly choose their Branch at any time.
  2. A member may implicitly choose their Branch by primarily attending meetings of one Branch.
  3. Else, the member is assigned to the Branch in which they live, if there is such a Branch.
  4. If needed, Officers may ask the member to choose a Branch explicitly.

ARTICLE V. Caucuses

Section 1. Constituency

Caucuses are subgroups for a constituency (e.g., women, labor, or people of color).

Section 2. Charter Proposal

Members who wish to form a Caucus must submit a proposed charter with (i) a Caucus name; (ii) purpose; (iii) membership criteria; (iv) Caucus Committee size; and (iv) a list of at least five prospective members (including two initial Co-Chairs) signed by those members.

Section 3. Youth Section

Locals of the DSA Youth Section may be recognized as Caucuses by Chapter Committee consensus or the Chapter, and do not need to submit a charter.

ARTICLE VI. Common Rules for Branches and Caucuses

Section 1. Autonomy

Branches and Caucuses are subject to these Bylaws, but have autonomy otherwise. This autonomy shall include, but not be limited to, raising and spending their own funds for their own projects, in coordination with the Treasurer. They must meet at least quarterly, and may adopt separate, compatible Bylaws on officer structure or matters not covered here by a three-quarters vote with fourteen days notice.

Section 2. Active Membership

Active membership of a Branch or Caucus follows the same rules as the Chapter.

Section 3. Chartering

Branches or Caucuses may be chartered by a two-thirds Chapter vote with fourteen days notice. The new Branch or Caucus must elect Officers within three months.

ARTICLE VII. Voting

Section 1. Votes

Votes of the Chapter and subgroups are conducted in person at one assembly, except that the Branch meetings collectively shall be treated as a Chapter assembly, and that the Chapter or subgroup may adopt additional rules, including rules that provide for absentee or online voting.

Each member shall have an equal vote. No member may vote at more than one Branch in a 60-day period, or vote at Silicon Valley DSA within 60 days of voting at another Chapter of DSA. No member may vote in elections of more than one Branch in a 60-day period, except that members may freely change their Branch affiliation one time ahead of the Officer elections each March.

Section 2. Conflicts of Interest

Members shall abstain from voting on matters which place them in a conflict of interest.

ARTICLE VIII. Endorsements

Section 1. Ballot Endorsements.

The Chapter, a Branch, or a Caucus may make a “ballot endorsement” by a three-quarters vote, defined to include endorsements of:

  1. a candidate for external office; or
  2. a proposition appearing on a public ballot; or
  3. a petition to place a candidate or initiative on a public ballot; or
  4. a recall petition; or
  5. a negative endorsement of any of the above.

In other cases, the Chapter Committee shall determine whether an endorsement question will be considered a ballot endorsement, prior to the endorsement vote.

Working Groups and Committees may not make ballot endorsements. However, a Working Group may recommend an endorsement by a three-quarters vote, and a Committee may make such a recommendation if its charter provides for it, following a democratic process described in that charter. Such recommendations are internal to the Chapter.

Section 2. Policy Endorsements.

The Chapter and Branches, Caucuses or Working Groups may endorse policies or public legislation by a two-thirds vote. A Chapter or Branch steering body may make timely policy endorsements by unanimous consent.

Section 3. Local Questions.

For endorsement questions local to one Branch’s territory, that Branch may endorse according to the thresholds in Sections 1 and 2. Other Branches and the Chapter may not endorse; except that the Chapter may, by a simple majority, join the endorsement already made by the local Branch. The Chapter Committee may pledge interim Chapter support between the Branch endorsement and the Chapter vote.

Branches shall not endorse on questions that are not local. In ambiguous cases, the Chapter Committee shall rule on whether a question is local.

Section 4. Use of Resources.

Significant Chapter resources may only be used to support endorsements made by the Chapter. A Branch or Caucus may use significant resources for its own endorsements or for a Chapter endorsement from which it has not dissented.

Section 5. Caucus Dissent.

A Caucus may dissent from Chapter or Branch endorsements by a simple majority.

Section 6. Scheduling Endorsement Votes.

Endorsement votes require fourteen days notice. Votes may be scheduled by the relevant steering body, a petition by five members, or a Committee empowered to do so in its charter.

ARTICLE IX. Elections

Section 1. Election Method

Elections shall use Single Transferable Vote tallying (Scottish STV or a method approved by the Chapter). 50% of seats (rounded down to a whole number) in an election are reserved for members that do not self-identify as men (“non-men”). Results shall be calculated as follows:

  1. Let S equal the seat number to be filled. Let T equal the threshold number reserved for non-men. Let R equal the remainder, S minus T.
  2. Voters rank candidates on a single ballot. Use STV to produce a ranking of candidates.
  3. From the top S candidates in the ranking, all non-men, and up to R members who self-identify as men, shall be deemed elected.
  4. If fewer than T non-men are elected, transfer each voter’s ranking of non-men candidates to a separate ballot. Use STV to produce a ranking of these candidates. Additional candidates are elected from the top of this list until T non-men are elected or the list is exhausted.
  5. If fewer than S candidates are running, or fewer than T non-men are running, nominations from the floor shall be used to fill the remaining seats, subject to simple majority approval and the minimum number of non-men, T. If this does not succeed, the seat is vacant.

Any additional rules must be set before notice is given. The nomination period must last at least fourteen days, and the election may not end before another fourteen days.

Section 2. Chairs and Co-Chairs

Any “Chair” role shall go to the first-ranked candidate from Section 1, Step II.

Any two “Co-Chair” roles (or similar) shall go to the top two candidates from Section 1, Step II, if at least one is a non-man. Otherwise, one co-chair role shall be assigned to the top candidate, and the second to the first non-man from the top S candidates in Step III, or to the top candidate from Step IV, or to the first non-man nominated in Step V.

Section 3. Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies

Delegates and alternates to the DSA National Convention or State and Regional bodies shall be elected by the Chapter using the method in Section 1 (and Section 2, if DSA requests that a delegation chair or co-chairs to be selected), except that the vacancies in Section 1, Step V shall be filled by additional candidates of any gender from the Step II ranking and floor nominations.

All runners-up are eligible to be alternates, up to a maximum of 5 (or a different number voted on by the Chapter). Late nominations for alternates may be approved by a simple majority.

ARTICLE X. Steering Bodies: Composition

Section 1. Steering Bodies

The steering bodies of the Chapter, Branches, and Caucuses are the Chapter Committee, Branch Committees, and Caucus Committees, respectively. Committee members are “Officers.” All officers must be members in good standing of Silicon Valley DSA.

Section 2. Chapter Committee

The Chapter Committee is composed of Branch and Caucus representatives (“reps”).

Branches. The number of reps per Branch depends on the number of Branches. One Branch shall have five reps; two, four reps each; three, three reps each; four or more, two reps each. This shall include the Branch Co-Chairs, and additional reps per Branch Committee agreement.

Caucuses. Each Caucus shall have one rep on the Chapter Committee. This shall be the first-listed Co-Chair in the charter, or the first-ranked winner of the Caucus election.

Branch or Caucus Committees may send substitute reps per internal agreement. Additional Branch or Caucus Officers are non-voting Observers on the Chapter Committee.

Section 3. Chapter Co-Chairs

The Chapter Committee shall appoint two Branch reps as Co-Chairs by consensus or election. At least one Co-Chair shall be a member who does not identify as a man.

Section 4. Branch Committees

Branch Committees have 5 voting members, including two Co-Chairs.

Section 5. Caucus Committees

Caucus Committees have 2-5 voting members (per their charter), including two Co-Chairs.

Section 6. Appointed Chapter Officers

The Chapter Committee shall appoint a Treasurer, and may optionally appoint a Secretary. Co-Chairs of the Chapter or a Branch may not hold these roles. Appointed officers are non-voting Observers on the Chapter Committee, unless they also hold an at-large seat.

Section 7. Appointed Branch and Caucus Officers

The Officers of each Branch or Caucus may appoint an Assistant Treasurer to help the Treasurer collect and manage funds, and/or an Assistant Secretary to assist in the Secretary’s duties where they pertain to that Branch or Caucus.

ARTICLE XI. Steering Bodies: Duties

Section 1. General Duties

All steering body actions are subject to review by the group. The steering body shall:

  • implement the group’s decisions, and act on its behalf where immediate action is needed
  • foster political education and leadership development
  • organize the group’s meetings and ensure fair, democratic votes and elections
  • coordinate with other parts of the Chapter, and select representation to outside groups
  • support associated Committees or Working Groups and receive their reports
  • authorize expenditures from the group’s funds (for expenses under $100, approval from both Co-Chairs is sufficient)

The steering body may make recommendations to the group by a two-thirds vote, which shall be placed on a Consent Agenda distributed fourteen days ahead of the group meeting.

Co-Chairs shall act as the official public spokespersons for the group.

Section 2. Chapter Committee Duties

Additionally, the Chapter Committee shall facilitate collaboration among the Branches and Caucuses and receive their reports, and communicate with the national DSA.

Section 3. Appointed Chapter Officers

The Treasurer shall have custody of group funds and manage group finances, and shall (i) present budget updates on a quarterly basis, as well as an end-of-year financial statement; (ii) authorize expenditures according to Chapter Committee direction (with prior approval if over $100), preferring contracts with union labor; and (iii) collect dues (if applicable) or donations. If a treasury is kept, it must be deposited in a local credit union, if available. Corporate donations are forbidden.

The Secretary, if appointed, shall maintain membership lists and other records, maintain internal communication channels, manage the booking of meeting venues, and facilitate the distribution of: notices for votes, meetings, and events; meeting minutes; and other communications. If no Secretary is appointed, these duties fall to the Chapter Committee.

Section 4. Meetings

The steering body may meet by mutual agreement. Members must be given four days notice; or one day in special circumstances. A quorum is required. A quorum here is defined as either one-half of voting members or two voting members, whichever number is greater. Written minutes shall be available to any active member on request.

Section 5. Records

Steering body members shall transfer official records in good condition to their successors, including minutes, sign-in sheets, membership lists. and financial records. Under no circumstance may a former Officer keep or make use of non-public official records of the steering body, except to transfer them to their successors or as agreed upon by the steering body.

ARTICLE XII. Steering Bodies: Terms, Recall, and Vacancies

Section 1. Terms

Elections shall be held in March, and terms are year-long by default. If a vacancy is filled, the new Officer serves the remainder of the term.

Section 2. Recall

A referendum for recall of an Officer may be called by a motion of no confidence put forward by five SVDSA members, and shall require a two-thirds vote with fourteen days notice.

Section 3. Vacancies

Individual vacancies may be filled by a majority vote. Otherwise, a new election shall be held for the vacant seat(s) within 45 days, following Article IX and maintaining gender balance.

ARTICLE XIII. Branch and Caucus Meetings

Section 1. Regular Meetings

Branches and Caucuses shall hold Regular Meetings at least quarterly.

Section 2. Special and Emergency Meetings

The Branch or Caucus Committee may call an Emergency Meeting on five days notice when an urgent, important matter needs deliberation, or a Special Meeting on fourteen days notice. Emergency Meetings shall only make decisions relevant to the emergency in question.

ARTICLE XIV. Chapter Meetings

Section 1. Chapter Convention

The Chapter Committee shall organize a Chapter Convention at least twice per year. The Convention shall work on strategy, education, and connecting members of different branches.

Section 2. Special and Emergency Meetings

The Chapter Committee may call Chapter-wide Special or Emergency Meetings as in XII.2, except that it may call for a Chapter-level Emergency Meeting to be held by each Branch.

ARTICLE XV. Rules of Meetings

Agendas shall be distributed to active members at least seven days ahead of Chapter, Branch, or Caucus meetings. Such meetings reach quorum with one fifth of active members. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised are the fallback rules of meetings of Silicon Valley DSA bodies. This means that any member may at any time move that the meeting follow Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

ARTICLE XVI. Committees and Working Groups

Section 1. Definition

Silicon Valley DSA may charter Committees that perform a specific function (e.g., outreach, design) and Working Groups for an issue, project, or campaign (e.g., housing, healthcare).

Section 2. Charter

Members who wish to form a Committee or Working Group must propose a charter including (i) a name; (ii) whether it will report to the Chapter or a Branch; (iii) objectives; (iv) initial strategy; (v) duration; (vi) anticipated use of funds; and (vii) membership criteria. The proposed charter must also include a list of prospective members (including Co-Chairs), signed by them. For Committees, the minimum is two; for Working Groups, the minimum is five.

The new Committee or Working Group shall be chartered by a vote of the proposed supervising body with fourteen days notice of the proposed charter. The group may propose amendments to be voted on by the supervising body with fourteen days notice.

Section 3. Co-Chairs

The group shall elect Co-Chairs within six months of chartering.

Section 4. Duties

The members of a Committee or Working Group shall execute their respective body’s strategy in fulfillment of its objectives. Co-Chairs shall organize their respective body’s members, run meetings, and act as liaisons to the supervising body. Groups shall report to the supervising body membership at least once per quarter.

Section 5. Records

Committees and Working Groups shall maintain meeting minutes to be be made available to the Chapter membership, as well as membership and attendance lists. Members maintaining custody of records shall transfer them in good condition to their successors.

Section 6. Dissolution

Groups shall dissolve upon the expiration of their duration, or by a vote of of the supervising body, or by resignation or unanimous consent of the active members, transferring all assets.

ARTICLE XVII. Amendments

Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of Silicon Valley DSA, and submitted to the Chapter Committee twenty-one days in advance of the first meeting at which they are to be introduced. The Chapter Committee must provide fourteen days notice. Amendments shall be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Chapter.

ARTICLE XVIII. Prohibited Activity

Silicon Valley DSA shall not engage in activity prohibited by law, the DSA Constitution and Bylaws, or resolutions of the DSA National Convention or National Political Committee. Any action in contravention of these Bylaws taken by an officer or member of the Chapter, or by any committee or assembly of the Chapter or its Branches, is null and void.

ARTICLE XIX. Dissolution

If Silicon Valley DSA dissolves, all remaining funds and assets shall be released to DSA.

ARTICLE XX. Ratification

These Bylaws must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of a meeting of each existing Branch to initially take effect, in addition to any requirements in the prior bylaws (unless suspended).