NORTH NEW JERSEY DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA (NNJDSA)
Drafted by Natasha Abner and Gregory Giacobe, based on Mark S. Alper and Russell Weiss-Irwin
ARTICLE I: NAME
The name of this organization shall be North New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America (NNJDSA), a local affiliate (“local”) of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The jurisdiction of NNJDSA shall consist of the following counties: Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Hudson, Union, Morris, Sussex and Warren.
ARTICLE II: PURPOSE
North New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America (hereinafter referred to as NNJDSA) establishes the following as its primary goals and objectives:
a) Providing a means by which members and supporters of the Democratic Socialists of America can participate in the life of our organization;
b) Openly educate and advocate for democratic socialism in our geographic area;
c) Actively engage in progressive movements and struggles in North New Jersey which are consistent with our values and vision for a humane society free from repression and exploitation and organized according to democratic principles both politically and economically;
d) Support other DSA locals and organizing committees in New Jersey and surrounding areas, to the greatest extent possible;
e) Participate in the campaigns and projects of the national DSA.
DSA as an organization is proud of our diversity, commitment to democracy, and the pluralism, which is at the heart of our organization. We are not a political party, nor do we have a “party line.” We are united by our belief that capitalism is detrimental to living a genuinely free, authentic and dignified life, just as it is destructive of our health, wellbeing
Differences between members are respected and, when discussed, a spirit of fraternity and comradeship is maintained. We believe socialism represents the fullest extension of democracy, and that includes the right of all to express their views in an atmosphere that promotes participation and peace of mind.
ARTICLE III: MEMBERSHIP
Membership is extended to any DSA member who has paid dues to the national office, or has requested a hardship waiver, and resides in the geographic area served by the local.
Members are encouraged to participate actively in activities of the national, local, and applicable branch organization, but are not required to do so. A member may be removed from membership by submitting a letter of resignation, or for
the following reasons:
a) Non-payment of dues (unless a hardship waiver has been requested);
b) Engaging in the harassment or violating the civil rights of another member(s);
c) Advocating violence or terrorism;
d) Disrupting meetings;
e) Being primarily under the motives of another organization; and/or
f) Interfering with the democratic structure of the organization.
If a member is to be removed from membership for any reason other than their resignation, the member shall be notified by the Executive Committee after a majority of the Executive Committee votes to remove the member. The member shall have the right to defend themself in front of an open meeting of the organization. The member shall have at least 14 days between being notified of the Executive Committee’s vote and presenting their defense. The member shall only be removed following a two-thirds vote of all members present at their defense.
ARTICLE IV: FINANCES
Annual dues shall be paid to the DSA national office. Members may also choose to contribute funds directly to the local. In general, expenditures of chapter funds must be approved by a majority vote of all members present at a meeting. Members of the executive committee shall be permitted to spend minimal amounts (less than $50) in the support of routine chapter activities (e.g., refreshments for a meeting).
ARTICLE V: BRANCHES
The following branch is established as part of NNJDSA: Hudson County. Additional branches may be established as circumstances warrant.
Branch leadership will consist of two co-chairs elected by members of the branch, and will be open to all members residing within the branch area as determined by zip code. Gender and racial diversity shall be the goal in electing the co-chairs.
For purposes of determining delegate elections for DSA conventions or other events based on proportional membership, branches must be established at least two months prior to local delegate elections to be eligible. Branches are entitled to a number of delegates commensurate with their size relative to the full local membership and rounded down to the nearest whole number. Branches may hold separate delegate elections unless otherwise determined by majority vote of both a branch and the local. In the event a branch’s membership or time of establishment does not entitle it to at least one delegate, branch members may stand for election with the full local. In the absence of a formal branch, members are empowered and encouraged to create working groups on local issues with the expectation that leadership of such groups should also maintain racial and gender parity and should be democratically elected.
ARTICLE VI: MEETINGS
Meetings of the NNJDSA shall be held on a monthly basis, and are open to both members and non-members of the organization. Only members of DSA shall have the right to vote on motions and proposals. Non-members will be invited to give a consultative vote.
ARTICLE VII: EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
The Executive Committee is responsible for providing leadership to the Chapter. The Executive Committee shall consist of the following elected officers:
The two Co-Chairs shall be the democratically elected lead representatives of NNJDSA. The Co-Chairs shall serve as liaisons between the National Office, other DSA locals, the NNJDSA Executive Committee, and the general membership of the organization. The Co-Chairs shall coordinate and preside over meetings of the general membership and Executive Committee and are responsible for ensuring that the policies and procedures of the organization are appropriately followed.
The Secretary shall be responsible for taking minutes of the meetings of the general membership and the Executive Committee. The Secretary shall coordinate with the Co-Chairs to oversee the operations administration of these meetings, including the coordination of meeting space, the distribution of meeting materials, and the maintenance of organization records.
The Treasurer shall be responsible for establishing a bank account, maintaining records of funds collected and disbursed, and providing regularly (at least quarterly) updates on fund balances and expenditures to the membership.
● Membership Coordinator
The Membership Coordinator shall preside over the membership records of the organization and shall serve as a communicative liaison between the Executive Committee and the general membership. The Membership Coordinator shall engage in regular outreach to group members and, in conjunction with the Secretary, shall be responsible for ensuring that members are notified of upcoming meetings and are in receipt of meeting materials.
● YDSA Coordinator
The YDS Coordinator shall be the central point of contact for all NNJDSA-related activities at high schools, Universities, or other youth-oriented locales and shall engage in regular outreach designed to foster active participation of young members of the organization. This position is only open to members 25 years of age and under.
● Engagement Coordinator
The Engagement Coordinator is tasked with maximizing the public presence and engagement of the organization. The Engagement Coordinator shall coordinate with the Executive Committee and general membership to ensure that NNJDSA is an active partner to like-minded organizations in Northern New Jersey and the surrounding areas and that NNJDSA members are aware of local events and actions in line with the purpose of the organization. The Engagement Coordinator shall also administer the social media presence of the organization.
Additionally, chapter members may be appointed by the Co-Chairs to ad hoc leadership positions on an as-needed basis. Gender and racial diversity shall be the goal in electing the Executive Committee.
In the event of a vacancy on the executive committee, members on the executive committee may appoint a replacement to serve in an acting capacity for the remainder of the term. If a majority of the members of the Executive Committee will be holding a meeting for the purpose of conducting chapter business, then notice of such a meeting must be given to all members with at least 14 days notice through email and other electronic means (e.g., Facebook).
Branch chairs shall be members of the Executive Committee, ex-officio. Co-chairs of a single branch will each receive a single vote in any executive committee votes. The term of service on the Executive Committee shall be one (1) year.
The Executive Committee is nominated and elected by the NNJDSA members, and is responsible to the membership. A vote to recall a member of the executive committee shall be initiated upon petition by one-tenth of chapter membership, or branches representing one-third of chapter membership, within 15 days of its receipt by the executive committee. Members shall vote on the matter of the recall by secret ballot. The executive committee will administer an electronic vote for members unable to attend the in-person meeting, to be closed within 24 hours of the in-person vote. The vote must be completed within 45 days of its initiation. The executive committee will make final vote totals available to chapter membership. A majority of those voting in favor of recall with a quorum of at least 20% of chapter membership shall immediately remove the executive committee member.
ARTICLE VIII: AMENDMENT
These by-laws may be amended after the approval of two-thirds of the voting membership (either voting in person at a duly-called meeting or by absentee ballot) where a quorum of ten percent (10%) of membership in good standing has been fulfilled. No amendment may be introduced and voted on at the same meeting. For the purposes of calculating the required number of voters to constitute a quorum, “membership in good standing” will refer to the total number of chapter members appearing on the most recent membership list received from the national organization at the time of the vote.
If a vote to amend the by-laws is approved by the required two-thirds of the voting membership but a quorum is not achieved, then the amendment may be offered for a second vote at the next meeting at a reduced quorum threshold of five percent (5%) of membership in good standing.
Section 9.1 – Purpose
The chapter shall, when possible, hold an annual convention in January that will serve as the highest decision-making body for the chapter. All members in good standing shall be invited and encouraged to attend. The convention will consist of: (1) discussing and voting on amendments to the chapter’s by-laws; (2) discussing and voting on up to 3 resolutions setting forth priorities the chapter will focus on for that year; (3) voting to elect members to positions in the Executive Committee for that year; and (4) any other business deemed necessary by the convention. In the event the Executive Committee determines that circumstances make holding an in-person convention unfeasible, the convention may be held remotely, using appropriate tools and technologies.
Section 9.2 – Timing and Notice
The chapter convention shall be held each January on a Saturday or Sunday to allow for maximum participation by the members. Notice of the date and location of the convention, along with a rough agenda, shall be communicated by the Executive Committee to the chapter membership at least 60 days before the convention.
In addition to notice of the date and location of the convention, the following shall also be communicated to the chapter membership at least 60 days before the convention: (1) information regarding the submission of by-laws amendments and priority resolutions; (2) candidate questionnaires for Executive Committee positions; and (3) procedural rules for the conduct of the convention. All required notices referenced in this Article shall be disseminated by whatever means are commonly in use at the time by the chapter for communication with members.
Section 9.3 – Accessibility
Due to the importance of the convention for establishing the direction of the chapter for the year, every effort shall be made to make the convention accessible. The convention location must be accessible to members with disabilities to the fullest extent possible and accommodations for childcare should also be provided, as needed.
To ensure the fullest possible participation by members in any votes for by-laws amendments, priority resolutions and Executive Committee positions, the chapter should utilize appropriate tools and technologies to allow for the submission of absentee ballots prior to the convention for those members unable to attend, and remote participation by members on the day of the convention, including the use of secure and reliable means for remote voting.
Section 9.4 – Submission Deadlines & Deadlines for Amendments
Proposed amendments to the chapter by-laws and proposed resolutions setting forth the chapter’s priorities for the year may be submitted by any North NJ DSA member in good standing. Any member in good standing may submit themselves as a candidate for any Executive Committee position by completing a candidate questionnaire.
All submissions shall be due no later than 30 days before the scheduled convention date. The Executive Committee shall make available to chapter members all submitted proposed amendments and resolutions, as well as submitted candidate questionnaire responses no later than 21 days before the scheduled convention date to allow for review and consideration by the membership. Members in good standing may submit proposed amendments to any submitted chapter by-laws amendment and priority resolution. Such amendments shall be submitted no later than 14 days before the scheduled convention date.
For the purposes of submitting amendments and proposals, as well as submitting oneself as a candidate for any Executive Committee position, an individual will be considered a member in good standing if they appear on the most recent membership list received from the national organization immediately prior to the submission deadline of 30 days prior to the convention.
Section 9.5 – Amendments to the By-Laws
At the convention, amendments to the chapter’s by-laws submitted by the deadlines in Section 9.4 may be voted on by North NJ DSA members in good standing. A reasonable amount of time should be allotted for the discussion, debate and modification of proposed amendments prior to voting. An amendment will be adopted by a successful two-thirds majority vote of members voting in-person at the convention, remotely, or by absentee ballot submitted prior to the start of the convention.
Section 9.6 – Priority Resolutions
At the convention, priority resolutions submitted by the deadlines in Section 9.4 may be voted on by North NJ DSA members in good standing. Such resolutions are intended to guide the chapter’s focus and activities for the year following the convention. The adoption of priority resolutions will not serve as a limit on the chapter’s activities or the activities of its leadership.
A reasonable amount of time should be allotted for the discussion, debate and modification of proposed resolutions prior to voting. Priority resolutions will be adopted by a successful two-thirds majority vote of members voting in-person at the convention, remotely, or by absentee ballot submitted prior to the start of the convention.
The chapter shall adopt no more than 3 such resolutions at any annual convention. If more than 3 resolutions are supported by a two-thirds majority vote of members, then the 3 resolutions receiving the highest number of votes in support will be adopted by the chapter for the year. In the event of a tie, in-person and remote convention participants shall hold a second ballot during the convention limited to resolving such tie.
Section 9.7 – Requirements for Voting
Any individual who is a North NJ DSA member in good standing at least 21 days before the scheduled date of the convention shall have the right to participate fully in the convention, including the right to cast votes at the convention for proposed amendments to the by-laws, priority resolutions and Executive Committee candidates. Individuals who become North NJ DSA members in good standing within 21 days before the scheduled date of the convention may attend the convention and participate in discussions and debates, but shall not be permitted to cast any votes. Votes during the convention to amend the chapter’s by-laws and to adopt priority resolutions shall require the approval of two-thirds of the voting membership (either voting in-person, remotely, or by absentee ballot) provided that a quorum of 5% of the chapter’s total membership in good standing is fulfilled. For the purpose of determining the individuals eligible to cast votes at the convention, “member in good standing” will refer to those individuals appearing on the membership list received from the national organization immediately prior to the deadline for the submission of amendments to proposed by-laws amendments and priority resolutions 21 days before the scheduled convention date. For the purpose of calculating the required number of voters to constitute a quorum at the convention, “membership in good standing” will refer to the total number of chapter members appearing on the membership list received from the national organization immediately prior to the deadline for the submission of amendments to proposed by-laws amendments and priority resolutions 21 days before the scheduled convention date.
Section 9.8 – Executive Committee Elections
The chapter’s elected leadership as described in Article VII shall be elected by secret ballot at the annual chapter convention by in-person, remote and absentee ballot voting. All nominees must be North NJ DSA members in good standing by the deadline for the submission of candidate questionnaires 30 days before the scheduled convention date. No quorum is required for Executive Committee election votes. For all contested positions, the nominee that receives the most votes from in-person, remote and absentee ballot voting at the convention is elected. In the event of a tie, a runoff election will be held at the next general body meeting. Provisions should be made, to the extent possible, to allow for in-person, remote and absentee ballot voting for any runoff election.
Amended August 2020