Olympia DSA is primarily governed by our bylaws, written and approved by our membership in 2017, as well as by the Constitution and Bylaws of DSA National. During our meetings and in all other DSA-hosted discussions, participants are expected to follow the Rules for Respectful Discussion:
Assume good faith in each other. Please try to speak from experience, speak for yourself, and actively listen to each other. When someone makes a point, repeat what you heard, summarize, and ask clarifying questions like “did you mean X” or “what makes you say that” to get more information. Encourage yourself and others to maintain a positive attitude, honor the work of others, avoid defensiveness, be open to legitimate critique and challenge oppressive behaviors in ways that help people grow. We want to “call each other in” rather than calling each other out — in other words, if you are challenging someone's ideas or behavior, do it respectfully, and if you are being challenged, receive it respectfully. Remember, mistakes will be made, nobody is perfect.
Help create a safe and inclusive space for everybody. Please respect others by recognizing how often, much, and loud you're speaking and whether or not you're dominating conversation. Step back to leave space for others to voice their opinions and feelings. If the facilitator of the meeting asks you to wrap up, recognize that you should step back. This especially applies to participants who have privileged backgrounds. On the other hand, if you don’t often speak up, we encourage you to do so now!
We have a limited amount of time for discussion and to accomplish the tasks before us. When in discussion, please ask yourself "Why am I talking (WAIT)?" Consider whether or not what you want to say has already been said, whether what you want to say is on topic or if there's a better time and place to say it, and other methods for showing how you feel about the conversation (nodding your head, etc.)
Many people have different levels of experience, knowledge, and feelings in social justice and radical activism and all participants should respect and embrace this diversity. Many people from different backgrounds have different definitions of what it means to be an "activist" or "radical." While we all don't have to agree on everything, we should respect our diversity of opinions. Recognize that everyone has a piece of the truth, everybody can learn, and everybody has the ability to teach and share something. Don't use language that's clearly oppressive or hurtful. Please, refrain from using acronyms or complicated language that could exclude others.
Many of us will have different opinions on matters. However, speaking while others are talking or adding comments when they cannot respond appropriately does not build community. If you have a disagreement, wait for your turn to address it. This is basic politeness.
Progressive Stack is a form of leading discussions which involves a facilitator keeping a list of names of people who wish to speak. The facilitator scans the group during discussion and if someone wishes to speak, they raise their hand and catch the facilitator's eye. The facilitator nods and makes eye contact to indicate the person is now put on the list to speak, and then the person can put their hand down so it does not distract other discussion participants. However, the facilitator does not simply write a list of names in the order that people raise their hand. Rather, if someone who has not spoken raises their hand, they go to the top of the list. If someone who is of an oppressed group raises their hand, they go to the top of the list unless they have already contributed significantly to the discussion.
Who said movement building can't be fun? This is a great opportunity for people to get to know one another, building lasting friendships and relationships, to laugh, love, and build a movement.
Please notify an organizer of any inappropriate conduct by a member of the Local. We have procedures at both a Local and National level to address issues of abusive, disruptive, or undemocratic behavior.
It is high time that we, as Democratic Socialists, should openly publish our views, our aims, and our tendencies in order to dispel the nursery tale that socialism cannot be achieved in America. It can, and we will break the power of capitalism to create a society built on the values of liberty, equality, and solidarity.
The Olympia WA Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America envisions a society and a world where every person can live in freedom and comfort, where the necessities of life are guaranteed and where all people can share in life’s glories. Never has such a society been more possible, for we live in a time of unprecedented wealth and productive power, but we must turn these resources and technology away from war, destruction and exploitation and to the meeting of human needs.
We believe this is only possible in a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which all people can meaningfully participate in the running of both the government and the economy. Human beings should be free to develop to their fullest potential, and public policies should be determined not by wealth but by popular participation. We reject an economic order based solely on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, patriarchy, racism, and all other forms of bigotry and oppression, which stifle the human spirit and weaken the power of the working class.
We are working people who are committed to joining together in solidarity to bring into being a new social order based on popular control of resources, production, and economic planning, equitable distribution, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships. The worker is entitled to all they create, and through our labor in the fields, in the home, in the offices, kitchens, stores and factories, we have built the world.
Our struggle is only possible because we stand at the end a long line of socialists, anarchists, communists, unionists, feminists, civil rights activists, and innumerable other radicals, resisters and revolutionaries who devoted their lives to carrying forward the fight for a better world. We now take up their struggle and commit to realizing the goal so many desired for so long of a society for the many, not the few.
We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision. We acknowledge the history of class struggles and understand that we cannot rely on ruling class institutions to do this. The working class must build its own instruments of political power. These new institutions must be of the working class and draw its power through the solidarity of its members.
Olympia WA DSA is committed to creating socialist political power by empowering working people to join together and support and strengthen each other through mutual aid and camaraderie. We value independent thought and creative ideas. We believe they add intellect and depth to our internal discussions and strengthen our movement. We acknowledge our opinions and strategy and tactics will continue to develop in response to scientific knowledge, political events, economic crises, and environmental constraints. Socialist thrives when thoughtful people question accepted policies and critically examine our long-held ideas. The creative drive and power of the working class will propel us forward into a better society.
We have a world to win.
The name of the Local Chapter will be the Olympia WA Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is a not-for-profit corporation.
The Olympia WA Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means of production are democratically and socially controlled.
Members of the Olympia WA Local Chapter of DSA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, including those whose dues have been waived, and who reside and/or work in Thurston, Mason, Lewis and Grays Harbor Counties in Washington State. Individuals may not be members of the Local Chapter without being members of national DSA. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the Local Chapter, to elect delegates to the national convention, to vote on matters related to national policy, and to make recommendations on issues and other matters to the National Political Committee of DSA.
Pursuant to Article III, Section 4 of the National DSA constitution, the Local Chapter Executive Committee shall have the power to suspend or expel members from the Local Chapter. In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally proffer written charges against the member in question to the Local Chapter Executive Committee. A two-thirds vote is required to suspend or expel a member. Prior to the meeting, officers of the Local Chapter Executive Committee will conduct interviews, gather facts and offer opportunities for reconciliation. In all cases, prior to discipline, the Local Chapter Executive Committee should consider and abide by the principles of privacy, accountability, and restorative justice. If the person being disciplined is on the Local Chapter Executive Committee, that person will recuse themselves from debates or votes on the matter. Members may be disciplined:
A member who has been suspended or expelled may appeal this decision to the Local Chapter General Membership by written request to any member of the Local Chapter Executive Committee. The member shall be entitled to explain themselves at the next General Meeting and present any additional evidence that was not considered by the Local Chapter Executive Committee. This does not entitle that member to be present for discussion or the remainder of the meeting. A vote of two-thirds shall be required to overturn the expulsion. An expelled member in good standing may appeal to the National Political Committee of DSA.
As mandated by the national Constitution and bylaws, the Local Chapter may establish a Local Chapter pledge system of voluntary donations for its members. The payment of a Local Chapter donation may not be a requirement for voting or for holding Local Chapter office.
The Local Chapter will hold a minimum of one (1) Convention annually for purposes of electing officers. All members of the Local Chapter will be sent notice of and an agenda for the Convention. Notice may be sent by electronic means, but individuals who have not provided an email address must be sent a paper copy. The Convention will elect Local Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. In general, it is the highest legislative body of the Local Chapter. The Convention may coincide with a General Meeting.
a. The Local Chapter will hold General Meetings at least four (4) times annually, the time and place of which will be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Local Chapter Executive Committee. The General Meetings will set Local Chapter policy and work priorities, and they will include political education sessions.
b. The Local Chapter Executive Committee will set the agenda for General Meetings. In general, the General Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local Chapter.
The Local Chapter Executive Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local Chapter on five (5) days’ notice to the general membership when an urgent and important matter that requires deliberation.
A quorum of ten (10) percent of the members (but not fewer than six (6) persons) is required for Conventions, or General or Emergency Meetings to transact business.
A voting member who is present at elections and votes to amend the bylaws may hold up to two (2) signed proxies from other non-present members in good standing and vote on behalf of those members. Proxy voting shall be coordinated by the Membership Coordinator.
a. The General Membership meeting in Convention, General Meeting, or Emergency Meeting is the only body authorized with making electoral endorsements on behalf of the Local Chapter. In all cases, endorsements of any candidate, initiative, or ballot measure shall require a two-thirds majority. Proposals for endorsements shall be made in the form of a written motion by a member of the Local Chapter in good standing, along with a brief statement describing how the proposed endorsement furthers the work or goals of the Local Chapter, submitted no less than 30 days prior to the meeting at which the endorsement will be considered. In the case of an Emergency Meeting for the purposes of electoral endorsement, this time period may be waived by a three-fourths majority.
b. Unless otherwise authorized, members of Olympia WA DSA are prohibited from campaigning as representatives of Olympia WA DSA either for or against any candidate, initiative, or ballot measure that the Local Chapter has not officially endorsed.
The officers of the Local Chapter will be two Co-Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Coordinator, and Communications Coordinator. The term of office will be one year, and will run from February 1 to January 31 or until their successors are elected. The officers may not all be of the same gender. Only members in good standing may stand for election.
In the event of a vacancy in any Local Chapter office, the Local Chapter Executive Committee will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term.
a. The Co-Chairs will be the chief executive officers of the Local Chapter. They will preside over Local Chapter and Executive Committee meetings or will appoint a substitute to assume the powers and duties of the presiding officer as specified in Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised. The Co-Chairs will be the official public spokespersons for the Local Chapter and will initiate such actions and policies as the Local Chapter’s general welfare may demand.
b. The Co-Chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and political work of the Local Chapter’s branches and committees.
c. The Co-Chairs will report to Local Chapter General Meetings on the business of the Executive Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection.
d. No more than one of the co-chairs at a given time will be a cisgendered man.
a. The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Local Chapter. They will ensure effective communication with national DSA. They will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair, if neither Co-Chair is able to do so.
b. The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Local Chapter and Executive Committee Meetings, and will have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local Chapter. They will transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records will include meeting minutes and member lists.
a. The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the Local Chapter. All funds collected by the Local Chapter will be turned over to the Treasurer, who will deposit them in a bank account under the name of the Local Chapter. The Treasurer will prepare the annual Local Chapter budget and deliver the Local Chapter financial report to the General Meeting of the Local Chapter, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Executive Committee of the Local Chapter.
b. The Treasurer may at any time create a Fundraising Committee to support their work, of which the Treasurer will be the Chair.
a. The Membership Coordinator will be responsible for maintaining the membership list of the Local Chapter, managing internal communication, and facilitating orientations for new members. In cooperation with the Secretary and Treasurer, the Membership Coordinator will be responsible for maintaining an up-to-date member contact list and ensuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date.
b. The Membership Coordinator will serve as the Grievance Officer for the Local Chapter. As Grievance Officer, they will be responsible for receiving complaints from members regarding harassment, abuse, and other inappropriate behavior on the part of a member of the Local Chapter and ensuring that the nationally established Grievance Policy (Appendix A) is followed. If, for any reason, the Membership Coordinator cannot effectively serve in this role, responsibility shall fall to the Co-Chairs.
c. Care will be taken to protect the privacy of each member’s contact information.
The Communications Coordinator will be responsible for managing the social media, website and other media presence of the Local Chapter, excluding internal communications. The Communications Coordinator may at any time create a Communication Committee to support their work, of which the Communications Coordinator will be the Chair.
The Local Chapter Executive Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer of the Local Chapter, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these bylaws.
a. The Local Chapter Executive Committee will be composed of the six (6) officers of the Local Chapter, the Co-Chairs of the External Organizing Committee, and the chair(s) of any Local Chapter branches.
a. The Executive Committee administers the affairs of the Local Chapter and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the Local Convention and General Meetings; it may also propose policy to the Convention and General Meetings. It will have the power to receive reports of any committee or branch, and advise thereon, to call Emergency Meetings of the Local Chapter, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Executive Committee is the regular executive body of the Local Chapter, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the Convention and General Meetings.
b. The Local Chapter Executive Committee will be responsible for establishing program activities for the Local Chapter, for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by members in good standing of Olympia DSA, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Local Chapter meetings.
The Local Chapter Executive Committee is responsible for fairly adjudicating disagreements between members or groups of members within the Local Chapter. This shall include developing and overseeing an accountable and fair mechanism of conflict resolution.
The meetings of the Local Chapter Executive Committee will be held at the call of one (1) of the Co-Chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Local Chapter Executive Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three (3) members of the Executive Committee. All members of the Local Chapter Executive Committee must (ordinarily) be given at least four (4) days oral, written, or electronic notice of regular Executive Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.
A quorum of half (rounded up) of the members of the Executive Committee, including at least three (3) of the six (6) officers, is required for the transaction of Local Chapter Executive Committee business.
A branch is a subgroup of the Local Chapter consisting of at least five (5) members in good standing with national DSA. Branches may be defined by geography or language. The chairs of branches will hold membership on the Local Chapter Executive Committee.
Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) chapters within the geographic area defined by a DSA Local Chapter may affiliate as a branch of that Local Chapter, in which case the local YDSA chapter may send a representative to the Local Chapter Executive Committee.
a. The Local Chapter will maintain a standing External Organizing Committee to carry out the political work of the Local Chapter at the direction of the General Membership. The External Organizing Committee may create sub-committees as necessary.
b. The External Organizing Committee will have two Co-Chairs. In addition to the regular responsibilities of committee Chairs, the External Organizing Committee Co-Chairs will serve on the Local Chapter Executive Committee.
The Local Chapter will maintain a standing Education Committee to spearhead the political education work of the Local Chapter, aimed at both members and the broader public. The Education Committee work will include presenting educational content during general meetings, producing written materials, forming reading groups, hosting public educational events, assisting with the Local Chapter’s public messaging, and supporting other committees and working groups.
a. The Local Chapter may have Ad hoc Committees and Working Groups. Ad hoc Committees will exist for a limited and explicit duration. Ad hoc Committees may be established by a vote of members in good standing at a General Meeting of the Local Chapter.
b. A Working Group is formed by two (2) or more members who submit a proposal to the chair of a Committee to work on a specific project. That proposal is then submitted to the general membership for approval.
Membership in Committees and Working Groups will be open to all members of the Local Chapter in good standing by default. Disputes within committees and Working Groups that cannot be resolved internally will be referred to Executive Committee, which may direct involved parties to remove themselves from Committee or Working Group work. Any party to such a decision may appeal to the General Membership.
a. Chairs of Committees will be elected by vote of the General Membership according to the process described in Article XI. Between Local Chapter Conventions, the General Membership may elect a Temporary Chair by a simple vote from nominations taken during a General Meeting. A Temporary Chair may serve until the next Local Chapter Convention, after which a full election must be held for a regular Chair.
b. Chairs of Committees will keep the Local Chapter Executive Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Local Chapter informed on the activities of the committee.
Local Chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention will be elected by members in good standing of the Local Chapter of DSA. Elections for the National Convention delegation will be held on the schedule announced by the national organization.
Olympia WA Local Chapter will not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501(c)(4) organizations or similar rules established by the state of Washington. Nor will the Local Chapter engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
a. A three (3)-person Nominations Committee will be established at least one (1) month prior to every election by vote of a General Meeting. It will solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected.
Nominations for Local Chapter officers and delegates to the National Convention will be opened at least 21 days before and closed at the meeting at which elections take place. The call for nominations will be announced to all members in good standing of Olympia DSA as soon as nominations are open. The Nominations Committee will distribute a list to the General Membership of all nominations received ahead of the scheduled election.
a. If a position is uncontested with the same (or fewer) number of nominees as open positions, the nominee(s) may be declared elected by acclamation. The nominee(s) will be elected if more than half of voters vote “yes.”
a. For positions with more than one (1) nominee per open position, election will be carried out through instant runoff voting. Members will rank all nominees in order of preference (starting with their first choice). If one (1) candidate has a majority of first-choice votes, that candidate is elected. If no candidate receives a majority of first preferences, an instant runoff retabulation shall be performed by the Nominations Committee within five (5) business days of the election. The instant runoff retabulation shall be conducted in rounds. In each round, each voter's ballot shall count as a single vote for whichever continuing candidate the voter has ranked highest. The candidate with the fewest votes after each round shall be eliminated until the number of remaining candidates is equal to the number of seats available for the contested position.
a. All elected positions of the Local Chapter, including Officers of the Executive Committee, and Committee Chairs, are subject to recall by a vote of the General Membership.
b. A recall vote may be triggered by a petition to the Executive Committee representing one-tenth of the General Membership. The petition shall include the rationale for the recall for presentation to the General Membership. The Executive Committee, upon receipt of the petition, shall make all reasonable efforts to notify the officer subject to recall. At the next General Meeting more than seven (7) days from the receipt of the petition, the Executive Committee shall initiate a recall vote by secret ballot. A majority vote shall recall the officer.
a. The Tally Committee shall consist of three (3) members, not connected to the election at issue.
b. The Tally Committee shall oversee counting of ballots during contested elections and recalls.
Proposed amendments to these bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five (5) members of the Local Chapter of DSA, and submitted to the Executive Committee at least one (1) month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Executive Committee is required to provide the Local Chapter membership with two (2) weeks’ written or electronic notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a majority vote of two (2) consecutive Local Chapter meetings. The Executive Committee will announce the result of the first vote at least one (1) week before the next consecutive Local Chapter meeting.
a. The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, will govern this Local Chapter in cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws. Consensus decision-making is desirable where feasible, but meetings must submit to Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised upon the request of a member in good standing.
b. The Local Chapter may establish additional Standing Rules (Appendix B) that will set default procedures for the Local Chapter. These procedures may be temporarily set aside for the duration of a Meeting by a simple majority vote. The Standing Rules may be permanently changed only by a two-thirds vote of the membership present at a meeting of the Local Chapter.
Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local Chapter in contravention of these bylaws is null and void.
Upon dissolution of the organization, any residual assets shall become property of the national organization of Democratic Socialists of America.
Endorsed by the general membership of the Olympia WA Local Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America on November 18, 2017. Approved by the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America April 3, 2018.