By-Laws

 
ARTICLE I
Name


The name of the Chapter shall be the Lancaster County, PA DSA Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).  DSA is a not-for-profit organization.


ARTICLE II
Principles and Purpose


The Lancaster County PA Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is a group of political, social, economic, and environmental activists committed to democracy as a means of restructuring American society. We recognize that economic power underlies politics and believe that corporate capitalism is fundamentally undemocratic since it concentrates wealth and power in the hands of a small minority of people. We believe that the purpose of society in not to protect concentrations of wealth at the expense of fulfilling the needs of human beings and the health of the environment in which they live. We seek to facilitate the transition of the United States of America to a truly democratic society in which the means/resources of production and distribution are democratically and socially controlled, making the economy more democratic and humane.

We reject an economic order based primarily on private profit and an exploited labor force with little or no voice in making decisions, which fosters gross inequalities of wealth and political power.

We envision a humane social order in which the many rather than the few have a voice in controlling resources and production, economic planning, and a more equitable distribution of wealth. The Lancaster County PA DSA supports a mixed economy, parts of which should be government controlled (utilities, health care, and mass transit), worker cooperatives, and small family businesses. We define the working class expansively to include all people who sell their labor whether manual, skilled, professional, or creative. We support the right of workers to organize unions and the requirement that employers recognize the right of unions to engage in collective bargaining.

Lancaster County PA DSA supports reforms that decrease the influence of money in politics; safeguards the right and ability of all eligible citizens to vote in local, state, and national elections; creates and sustains a healthy environment; and end all types of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual/affectional orientation, or physical and mental handicaps. The Lancaster County PA DSA supports the separation of church and state and is committed to the freedom of all people to follow their individual convictions.

The DSA is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit founded in 1983 and is not registered as a political party with the Federal Elections Commission. The Lancaster County PA DSA focuses on non-electoral public interest work; though it cannot run its own candidates, it may endorse and actively support candidates for political office who are committed to a DSA political philosophy.


ARTICLE III
Membership


  • Section 1. Membership
 Members of the Lancaster County PA DSA are those whose dues to the National DSA are paid in full and who reside and/or work in the 11th Congressional District (Lancaster County PA County and Southern York County) of Pennsylvania. It is the responsibility of these members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the Local Chapter, to elect the Chapter’s officers, to elect delegates to state and national conventions, and to vote on matters related to national DSA policy.

  • Section 2. Removal of Members
If a member of the Lancaster County PA DSA is found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic or disruptive behavior, or found to be under the discipline of any democratic centralist organization, the Local Chapter may vote to expel them from the Local Chapter of the DSA.  In order for such a finding to be made, another DSA member must formally submit written charges against the member in question to the Local Chapter Steering Committee, which shall set the date of a Local Chapter meeting for deliberations on the charges.  

The member in question must receive a copy of the written charges and notice of the meeting a minimum of two (2) weeks before that meeting takes place.  Expulsion of a member requires a two-thirds vote of the Local Chapter meeting.  An expelled member in good standing may appeal to the National Political Committee of the DSA.

  • Section 3. Voluntary Donations
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.

  • Section 4. Privacy
Care will be taken to protect the privacy of each member’s information.


ARTICLE IV
Local Chapter Meetings


  • Section 1. General Meeting
The Local Chapter will hold a minimum of one (1) General Meeting annually for purposes of electing officers. All members of the Local Chapter will be sent notice of and an agenda for the General Meeting at least three (3) weeks in advance. Notice may be sent by electronic means, but individuals who have not provided an email address must be sent a paper copy. The General Meeting will elect Local Chapter officers and may adopt an annual budget. The General Meeting is the highest legislative body of the Local Chapter. The General Meeting may coincide with a Regular Meeting.

  • Section 2. Regular Meetings
The Local Chapter will hold Regular 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 Steering Committee. The Regular Meetings will set Local Chapter policy and work priorities.

The Local Chapter Steering Committee will set the agenda for General and Regular Meetings. In general, the Regular Meeting is the operating legislative body of the Local Chapter and the membership of the Local Chapter will have democratic control over the operations of the Local Chapter.

  • Section 3. Emergency Meetings
The Local Chapter Steering Committee may call an Emergency Meeting of the Local Chapter on five (5) days’ notice when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation.

  • Section 4. Quorum
A quorum of 10 percent of the members (but not fewer than six (6) persons) is required for General, Regular, or Emergency Meetings to transact business.


ARTICLE V
Local Chapter Officers: Powers and Duties


  • Section 1. Officers and Terms
The seven (7) members of the Local Chapter Steering Committee will be two Co-Chairs, a Secretary, a Treasurer, a Social Media Coordinator, a Membership Coordinator, and one At-Large member. No more than four (4) of the officers may be of the same gender and at least one should be a person of color. Their terms of service will be two years, and will run from May to April or until their successors are elected.   The terms of Steering Committee members will be staggered, with one of the Co-Chairs, the Secretary, and the Social Media Coordinator elected in even years and the other Co-Chair, Treasurer, the Membership Coordinator, and the At-Large member elected in odd years.

  • Section 2. Vacancies
In the event of a vacancy occurring on the Steering Committee, the Steering Committee will appoint a replacement for the remainder of the member’s term, subject to approval at the next Regular or General Meeting. In the event of the removal of a Steering Committee member, a vacancy will exist which the Steering Committee will fill subject to approval by a simple majority vote of chapter members at the next regular or General Meeting of the local chapter.

  • Section 3. Co-Chairs
  1. The Co-Chairs, one of whom must be female or self-identify as female, will preside over Local Chapter and Steering 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.
  2. The Co-Chairs will be responsible also for coordinating the day-to-day operations and work of the Local Chapter’s branches and Working Groups in conjunction with the Steering Committee.
  3. The Co-Chairs will report to Local Chapter Regular Meetings on the business of the Steering Committee Meetings, at which time a copy of the minutes of those meetings will be available for inspection prior to the meeting.
 
  • Section 4. Secretary
  1. The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Local Chapter. The Secretary will insure effective communication with national DSA. The Secretary will temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Co-Chair, if neither Co-Chair is able to do so.
  2. The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Local Chapter and Steering Committee Meetings, and will have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local Chapter. The Secretary will transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records will include meeting minutes.
 
  • Section 5. Treasurer
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 credit union under the name of the Local Chapter. In cooperation with the Secretary, the Treasurer will be responsible for ensuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will deliver a financial report at both Chapter and General Meetings, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee. The Treasurer shall be responsible for authorizing all expenditures in accordance with the wishes of the Steering Committee (in the case of expenditures over $100, prior approval must be sought from the Steering Committee).  The Treasurer shall be responsible for fulfilling any tax reporting requirements at the local, state and federal level.

  • Section 6. Social Media Coordinator
The Social Media Coordinator shall be responsible for managing the social media communications of the Local Chapter. The Social Media Coordinator shall be responsible for maintaining the Local Chapter website and managing the individual email accounts of Steering Committee members.

  • Section 7. Membership Coordinator
The Membership Coordinator is responsible for orientation of new members, membership renewals, and maintaining an up-to-date membership list of the Local Chapter.


ARTICLE VI
Steering Committee


  • Section 1. Composition
The Local Chapter Steering Committee will be composed of the seven (7) officers of the Local Chapter.  The chair(s) of Local Chapter branches may serve as non-voting members of the Steering Committee.
  • Section 2. Duties
  1. The Steering Committee administers the affairs of the Local Chapter and oversees the implementation of the decisions of the General and Regular Meetings; it may also propose policy to the General and Regular 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 Steering Committee is the regular executive body of the Local Chapter, and thus subordinate to its Legislative bodies, the General and Regular Meetings.
  2. The Local Chapter Steering Committee will be responsible for proposing guidelines and policies that will subsequently be voted on by members in good standing of Lancaster County PA County DSA, for communicating information from the National DSA to the Local Chapter, and for acting on the organization’s behalf between Local Chapter meetings.
 
  • Section 3. Meetings
The meetings of the Steering Committee will be held at the call of one of the Co-Chairs at such intervals as may be determined by a prior Steering Committee Meeting or by consultation with any three (3) members of the Steering Committee. All members of the Steering Committee must be given two (2) days oral, written, or email notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances. Steering Committee meetings shall be open to all Local Chapter members in good standing unless the Committee goes into executive session by two-thirds vote of the committee.

  • Section 4. Quorum
A quorum of four (4) of the seven (7) voting members of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.


ARTICLE VII
Branches


  • Section 1. Definition
A Branch is a subgroup of the Local Chapter consisting of at least five (5) members in good standing with national DSA. For the purposes of facilitating ongoing activity and member involvement, Lancaster County PA DSA may establish branches in municipalities with substantial concentrations of Lancaster County PA DSA members. Branches may be established by a majority vote at a General Meeting or a Regular Meeting. The chairs of Branches will hold non-voting membership on the Local Chapter Steering 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 Steering Committee.        


ARTICLE VIII
Working Groups


  • Section 1. Definition
The Local Chapter will have Working Groups consisting of volunteers from the Local Chapter who have an interest in and knowledge of the activities and programs sponsored by each group.

  • Section 2. Duties
Each Working Group will have an organizer, chosen by its members, who keeps the Steering Committee informed by making an official report of its activities at each Regular Meeting.  The Working Group chairperson will provide the Chapter’s Social Media Coordinator with a schedule of events and information on its programs or actions to be posted on the Chapter’s website and monthly calendar.  The Working Groups include but are not limited to the following;

  • Section 3. Standing Working Groups  
Social Activities Working Group    
The Social Activities Group is responsible for planning the Local Chapter’s social events. These may include, but are not limited to potlucks, coffee hours, happy hours, picnics, and fundraisers. There will be at least one such event per month.

Education Working Group
The Education Group is responsible for providing members with the opportunity to learn about and discuss the history, philosophy, and theory of socialism and related movements as stated in the Local Chapter’s statement of Principles and Purpose in Article II of the Bylaws, and that underpin, inform, and further the goals of the Democratic Socialists of America.  To this end, the Education Working Group will organize workshops, study and discussion groups, film nights, reading groups, forums, and other educational activities.  
 
Research Working Group
This group will engage in research related to the whole range of political, social, economic, and environmental issues that concern the Lancaster County PA DSA.  Members of the Research Working Group will focus on gathering information on the activities of local governing bodies, state statutes, local ordinances, and monitoring municipal and township meetings, keeping abreast of public opinion and media reports on key issues, and gathering information on the needs and concerns of such at-risk groups as low-income families, minorities, and immigrants.  This data will be shared with the Actions Working Group to support its planning for possible Actions.

Actions Working Group
This Working Group will focus on coordinating with local residents and organizations and groups such as Black Lives Matter, union employees on strike, property owners disputing infringements on their land, Lancaster Stands Up, and other groups that dispute governmental actions that violate the principles and goals of Democratic Socialism. Actions are defined as the decision of the Lancaster County  PA DSA to join picket lines, public protests, demonstrations, rallies, and marches that lend support to people or organizations that share the values and goals of Democratic Socialism.  

Other forms of Action include mounting letter-to-the-editor campaigns on specific issues, and endorsing candidates for public office who subscribe to DSA values and supporting them through ballot access petitioning, distribution of campaign literature, and get-out-the-vote activities. All Actions by members of the Local Chapter in the name of Lancaster County PA DSA must receive prior approval by a simple majority vote of the Steering Committee, which must certify be sure that such Actions do not violate the Bylaws of the National DSA or the provisions of Article X of the Bylaws of the Lancaster County PA DSA.    

Ad hoc Working Groups
By a simple majority vote of the Steering Committee, an ad hoc working group may be created to meet specific short-term needs.


ARTICLE IX
Delegates to National, Regional, and State Bodies


  • Section 1. Eligibility to Vote
Local Chapter delegates and alternates to the National Convention, as well as to any regional or state organizations, will be elected by members in good standing of the Local Chapter of DSA.

  • Section 2. Schedule of Elections to National, Regional, or State Organizations
Elections for the National Convention delegation will be held on the schedule announced by the national organization. Elections to regional or state organizations will be held on the schedule announced by those organizations.

  • Section 3. Method of Voting
Following Article V, Section 5 of national DSA’s Constitution, delegates to the National Convention must be elected by secret ballot.  Following Article VI, Section 3, of national DSA’s Bylaws, Local Chapters “may determine their own method of election of delegates to the Convention except that a petition from 10% of a Local’s membership or a motion supported by 15% of those present and voting at the Local meeting which determines the method of election will require the use of the Hare system in that Local’s election of delegates to the National Convention.”


ARTICLE X
Prohibited Activity


The Lancaster County PA DSA will not engage in activity prohibited by IRS guidelines established for 501(c)(4) organizations or similar rules established by the state of Pennsylvania. Nor will the Local Chapter engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.


ARTICLE XI
Elections, Nominations, and Recall


  • Section 1. Nominations Committee
A three (3)-person Nominations Committee will be established at least one (1) month prior to every election by vote of a Regular Meeting. It will solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected, including Local Chapter officers and Steering Committee members.

  • Section 2. Nominations Process
Nominations for Local Chapter officers and delegates to the National Convention will be opened at least 10 days before and closed at the election meeting. The call for nominations will be announced to all members in good standing of DSA as soon as nominations are open.

  • Section 3. Uncontested Positions
If a position is uncontested, the nominee may be declared elected by acclamation.

  • Section 4.  Recall
  1. Members of the Steering Committee may be removed for malfeasance, or missing three consecutive Steering Committee or membership committees, or a combination of these; or for failing to carry out any responsibilities for a period of forty days.
  2. A vote to recall a member of the Steering Committee shall be initiated upon the Steering Committee’s receipt of petition by one-tenth of Chapter membership (as defined by Article III Section 1) or branches of the Local Chapter (as defined by Article VII, Section 1) representing one-third of Local Chapter membership.
  3. The Steering Committee shall provide written notice of the recall vote to the Local Chapter membership no more than seven (7) days after receipt of a recall petition meeting the guidelines provided in part a of this section. The written notice shall provide the date and time for the in-person vote.
  4. The in-person vote shall occur on a date no fewer than twenty-one (21) days and no more than forty-five (45) days from the date the written notice was issued to the Chapter membership.
  5. If a scheduled General Meeting or Regular Meeting occurs during the period of time defined in part c of this section, then the in-person vote shall take place at the General Meeting or Regular Meeting. If there is no General Meeting or Regular Meeting scheduled within this period of time, then the Steering Committee shall schedule an Emergency Meeting to ensure the in-person vote takes place before this period of time expires.
  6. Members shall vote on the matter of the recall by secret ballot. The Steering Committee shall make final vote totals available to Local Chapter membership.
  7. A majority vote in favor of recall with a quorum of at least 20% of Local Chapter membership shall immediately remove the Steering Committee member.
  8. A member of the Steering Committee subject to a recall petition or recall vote may review the petition for recall any time before the recall vote occurs.  The accused officer will be given a chance to speak in his or her own defense prior to the in-person vote.
  9. The Steering Committee may, with a two-thirds majority, vote to suspend some or all of the duties or powers of the Steering Committee member subject to the recall petition or recall vote until the conclusion and totaling of the vote. The Steering Committee may not revoke the right of the member defined in part g of this section.


ARTICLE XII
Amendments


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 Steering Committee one (1) month in advance of a General or Regular Meeting. The Steering Committee is required to provide the Local Chapter membership with two (2) weeks’ written or email notice of the proposed amendment(s). The amendment must be approved by a majority vote of two (2) consecutive (Chapter or Annual) Local meetings.


ARTICLE XIII 
Rules of the Local Chapter


  • Section 1. Rules    
The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised 11th Edition, 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 11th Edition upon the request of a member.

  • Section 2. Action Out of Order
Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local Chapter in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.

  • Section 3. Harassment Policy
The Local Chapter will follow the Harassment Policy of national DSA.


ARTICLE XIV
Distribution of Assets


Upon dissolution of the organization, any residual assets shall become property of the national organization of Democratic Socialists of America.