CENTRAL NEW JERSEY DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA BYLAWS
Drafted by Mark S. Alper and Russell Weiss-Irwin, August 2016 AMENDED September 2019 AMENDED June 20, 2020 AMENDED December 19, 2020 AMENDED March 10, 2021 AMENDED May 30, 2023
ARTICLE I. NAME
The name of this organization shall be Central New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America (“CNJ DSA”), a local chapter affiliate (chapter) of Democratic Socialists of America (“DSA”). The jurisdiction of CNJ DSA shall consist of the following counties: Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon, Monmouth, and Ocean.
ARTICLE II. PURPOSE
Section 1.0 Primary goals and objectives
A. Providing a means by which members and supporters of Democratic Socialists of America can participate in the life of our organization;
B. Openly educating and advocating for democratic socialism in our geographic area;
C. Actively engaging in progressive movements and struggles in Central New Jersey which are consistent with our values and vision for a democratic and humane society free from repression and exploitation. This includes, but is not limited to, the struggles against racism, sexism, and ableism, while supporting positive and affirming identity movements, including feminism and transgender equality; supporting measures to defend and sustain the environment, which is constantly put at risk by the ceaseless drive for corporate profits; and advocating for the demilitarization of US foreign policy and a world free of nuclear weapons;
D. Supporting other DSA chapters and organizing committees in New Jersey and surrounding areas to the greatest extent possible; and
E. Participating in the national 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. 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. 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, and environment.
ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP
Section 1.0 Eligibility
A. Membership in CNJ DSA 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 chapter. A CNJ DSA member (“member”) is encouraged to participate in activities of the national, chapter, and applicable branch organization but is not required to do so.
Section 2.0 Resignation of CNJ DSA membership
A. A member may resign their membership with DSA by submitting a letter of resignation.
Section 3.0 Revocation of CNJ DSA membership
A. Membership may be revoked for the following reasons: Non-payment of dues (unless a hardship waiver has been requested); Engaging in the harassment or violating the civil rights of another member(s); Advocating violence or terrorism; Disrupting meetings; Being under the discipline of another organization (e.g., “vanguardist” or “democratic centralist”) organization. A member may also be removed or suspended at the decision of the chapter’s Harassment and Grievance Officers. These suspensions and expulsions may be appealed to the National organization, or the HGOs of a partner DSA chapter, as outlined in CNJ-DSA’s Harassment and Grievance policy.
B. If a member is to be removed from membership for any reason other than their resignation, they shall be notified by the Steering Committee after a majority of the Steering Committee votes to remove the member. The member shall have the right to defend themselves in front of the membership and shall only be removed following a two-thirds vote of members present at the defense.
ARTICLE IV. DUES AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Annual dues shall be paid to the DSA national office. Members may also choose to contribute funds directly to the chapter.
ARTICLE V. BRANCHES
Section 1.0 Branch creation
A. The CNJ DSA may be subdivided into branches based on the following categories: A municipality or group of municipalities;
An educational institution or group of educational institutions;
A workplace or group of workplaces.
B. A group of CNJ DSA members within an area defined in Article I may apply for branch status to the chapter Steering Committee. The creation of the branch will be voted on at the next chapter meeting, and may be approved by a majority vote.
Section 2.0 Rights and duties A. A branch must meet on a regular basis, and communicate the proceedings of those meetings (except for business needing higher security) to the Steering Committee.
B. A branch must elect a branch secretary/organizer who shall regularly participate in Steering Committee calls and may elect any other leadership positions it feels necessary for the successful functioning of the branch.
C. A branch has the right to conduct activities autonomously from the wider chapter, so long as they don’t contradict the mission of the chapter as a whole.
D. A branch has the right to dissolve itself by majority vote of the branch.
E. The establishment of branches does not prevent members within that branch from participating in chapter activity outside of their branch, nor does it prevent members from organizing informally without going through the branch application process.
Section 3.0 Branch dissolution
A. A branch that holds no meetings for three months will be considered dissolved. Re- establishing the branch requires that interested members go through the branch application process again.
B. A branch may also be dissolved by a two-thirds vote (of those voting) at a chapter meeting.
ARTICLE VI. CHAPTER MEETINGS
Section 1.0 Membership as the highest authority
A. The membership at a chapter meeting shall constitute the highest decision–making body of the chapter.
B. All decisions, policies, agendas, statements, and other items of business decided at these chapter meetings are binding over any other body of the chapter.
C. Chapter meetings may overturn the decisions of prior chapter meetings, but no other body may.
Section 2.0 Frequency of regular meetings
A. Regular chapter meetings of CNJ DSA, scheduled by the Steering Committee, shall be held on a monthly basis, and are open to both members and non-members of the organization.
B. Email notice of regular chapter meetings must be provided three weeks in advance.
Section 3.0 Agenda and notice
A. An agenda must be adopted at the start of any chapter meeting.
B. All agendas must include an open heading for new business.
Section 4.0 Special meetings
A. Special meetings of the chapter may be called by the Steering Committee in urgent situations.
B. Notice shall be provided seven days in advance, describing the subject of the meeting.
C. No other subject may be discussed.
D. Quorum shall apply as below.
Section 5.0 Quorum
A. Quorum shall be 80% of the average attendance of CNJ DSA members at the prior three chapter meetings.
B. Only members of DSA shall have the right to vote on motions and proposals.
Section 6.0 Rules of order
The chapter shall adopt rules to facilitate the running of and decision making process at chapter meetings. These rules shall be maintained as an appendix to these bylaws, and follow the same amendment procedure. They shall govern the chapter and its chapter meetings in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws.
ARTICLE VII. STEERING COMMITTEE
Section 1.0 Composition
A. The Steering Committee shall consist of the following elected officers:
- 2 Co-chairs
- Communications Coordinator
- Membership Coordinator
- YDSA Coordinator
Section 2.0 Steering Committee’s duties and powers
The Steering Committee shall:
A. Have general supervision of the affairs of the chapter between meetings.
B. Be responsible for the planning and execution of chapter meetings. This shall include:
Fixing the hour and place of meetings.
Approving the draft agenda for each meeting.
C. Make recommendations to the chapter.
D. Serve as the chapter’s public spokespeople.
E. Have the authority to sponsor or endorse events put on by other organizations and to organize public-facing events on behalf of the chapter.
F. Perform other such duties as are specified in these bylaws and in the parliamentary authority adopted by the chapter.
Section 3.0 Duties of the Co-chairs
The Co-chairs shall schedule Steering Committee meetings and preside over both chapter meetings and meetings of the Steering Committee.
Section 4.0 Duties of the Secretary-Treasurer
The Secretary-Treasurer shall:
A. Keep minutes of all chapter and Steering Committee meetings;
B. In the event that both Co-chair positions are vacant, preside over a chapter meeting until the election of a temporary chair ;
C. Keep an up-to-date record of the chapter’s bylaws and rules;
D. Make minutes and records available to members upon request;
E. Serve as custodian of the chapter’s funds; and
F. Provide a quarterly report of incomes, expenditures, and account balances
Section 5.0 Duties of the Communications Coordinator
The Communications Coordinator shall administer all channels of internal communication and external public relations, including but not limited to maintaining/updating the chapter’s membership roll, the chapter email list, internal discussion forums, chapter social media accounts, and the chapter website.
Section 6.0 Duties of the Membership Coordinator
The Membership Coordinator shall:
A. Be responsible for member recruitment and retention efforts; and
B. Cultivate a wider and greater degree of participation in chapter activities among chapter membership.
C. Furnish voting credentials to members at chapter meetings: For general chapter business (straw poll on member opinion, chapter statements and endorsing statements, chapter expenditure requests up to $150) all meeting attendees are allowed to vote. For all other business and steering committee elections, only members in good standing are allowed to vote. A member in good standing is defined in ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP Section 1.0 Eligibility.
Section 7.0 Duties of the YDSA Coordinator The YDSA Coordinator shall serve as liaison to any YDSA chapters within CNJ DSA’s geographical jurisdiction. They need not be a member of YSDA or active in any YDSA chapter or branch.
Section 8.0 Delegation to other chapter members Any responsibility given here to the Steering Committee may be delegated by a vote of the Steering Committee. A. Any responsibility given to an individual officer may be delegated by that officer. This will often be desirable in the interest of developing the organizational capacity of the chapter and individual members’ skills.
B. The Steering Committee or delegating officer still bears ultimate responsibility for the fulfillment of delegated tasks.
Section 9.0 Quorum Quorum shall be a majority of the Steering Committee.
Section 10.0 Notice of meetings Notice of Steering Committee meetings must be provided to the membership seven days in advance. Chapter members shall be allowed to call in.
Section 11.0 Emergency meetings A. The Co-chairs may convene an emergency meeting to discuss a single subject in exigent circumstances (including, for example, but not limited to, organization of a snap action, urgent discipline of a member, or to approve immediate expenses).
B. 24-hour notice to the membership is required.
Section 12.0 Expenditure of funds A. Expenditures of chapter funds must be authorized by majority vote at a chapter meeting.
B. The Secretary-Treasurer or their designee may spend up to $50 without the approval of the chapter in a given month in the support of routine chapter activities. Such expenditures must still be authorized by the Steering Committee.
ARTICLE VIII. CHAPTER ELECTIONS
Section 1.0 Election timeline A. This timeline will be announced by the Co-chairs at the June chapter meeting.
B. Self-nominations and candidate statements will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. the Saturday before the July chapter meeting.
C. All candidate statements will be distributed at the July chapter meeting and published internally on that same day.
D. The online polls will be opened the following day and remain open for one week
E. Results will be announced by the outgoing Steering Committee the evening after the polls close and published internally.
Section 2.0 Voting A. Steering committee and Harassment and Grievance Officer (HGO) elections shall be conducted by an electronic secret ballot. A unique voting link shall be e-mailed to anybody who is a member of CNJ DSA at the time the polls open.
B. Ballots will be ranked choice and tabulated via instant runoff voting. HGOs shall be elected separately, such that the ballot has one section listing SC candidates and another listing HGO candidates. Ballots will be ranked choice, and tabulated via instant runoff voting.
Section 3.0 Steering Committee positions The officers shall be elected at–large, and shall decide among themselves within two weeks of the election which offices they are to occupy.
Section 4.0 Term of office and removal from office A. The Steering Committee members shall serve for one year or until their successors are elected. HGOs shall serve two-year staggered terms, with one HGO spot being up for election in odd-numbered years and the other elected in even-numbered years. The first pair of HGOs to be elected shall decide by mutual agreement whose term is to expire at the 2020 chapter elections; the other initial HGO’s term shall expire at the time of the 2021 chapter elections.
B. Their term of office shall begin the day after election results are announced.
C. Officers may be removed from office at the pleasure of membership, for any reason, by: A two-thirds vote; A majority vote at a chapter meeting when notice has been given at a previous meeting; or A vote of a majority of the entire membership.
Section 5.0 Term limits No member shall be eligible to serve three consecutive terms in the same office. There is no limit on number of terms served for HGOs.
Section 6.0 Vacancies A. If an office is vacated by its occupant, the Steering Committee may appoint a replacement to carry out those duties until the office is filled by election at the following chapter meeting. This appointee shall not vote or count toward quorum on the Steering Committee.
B. If the vacancy occurs after the April chapter meeting, the steering committee may choose not to hold an election to fill the spot, retaining the temporary appointee until the new Steering Committee is elected in July.
Article IX. Committees and Working Groups
Section 1.0 Definition and Purpose
In order to more effectively organize to achieve its mission and objectives, CNJ DSA may establish committees and working groups. Committees may be established for the purpose of organizing around issues before the formation of a formal working group. A committee may also perform specific functions for the chapter (e.g., socialist feminism, design, marketing and communication, public outreach, liaison to other organizations, political education, etc.). Committees are internal-facing to support CNJ DSA’s organizing. Working groups may be established for the purpose of organizing action around issues or projects (e.g., housing, immigration, socialist feminism, etc.) that fall under the purview of CNJ DSA. Working groups are external-facing to support CNJ DSA’s public campaigns.
Section 2.0 Creation of Committee
Members who wish to form a committee must submit a proposed charter that includes: A group name and a mission statement which includes the goals and objectives of the committee An initial strategy for achieving the stated objectives Must include meeting frequency Must include a timeline for objectives Must include strategy for outreach internally in CNJ DSA Must include communication methods, whether email or other methods Proposed charters for committees must include a statement of whether the proposed committee is to be a standing committee of indefinite duration or a temporary committee to expire at a time certain or upon the occurrence of a specified event. Whether the committee intends to be formed as a means to build support and infrastructure for a working group.
A list of at least five prospective members (including two who are designated as Coordinators) signed by those members. The duties of the Coordinators include delegating the responsibilities of the committee (not executing all responsibilities themselves.) If it is anticipated that the proposed committee will seek authorization to expend the chapter’s funds, a short explanation of the anticipated use of those funds and an estimate of the amount to be spent. If the amount of funds needed is less than $50, expenditures may be authorized by the Steering Committee. The funds may include printing costs for literature, supplies for holding a meeting, etc. For a proposal of funds over $50, the committee would apply for authorization for chapter funds by majority vote at a chapter meeting. Membership in committees should be open to all members in good standing but if there is a reason that the committee is not open to all members, the charter must include the reason. Reasons might include membership based on gender identification or race.
Prior to the formation of the committee, it should referred to as “Proposed Committee” A proposed committee shall be recognized and chartered with the approval of a majority of the votes cast at a General chapter meeting. Coordinators of the committee must send the charter to the Chapter SC so the charter can be published on the agenda or announced to the membership at least 7 days prior to the meeting.
After a committee is chartered, responsibilities include: A representative from the committee must provide a report-back to the general membership at the monthly General chapter meeting. Social media accounts for committees may only be started after the committee has been given a charter by the general membership.
Section 2.1 Creation of a Working Group
Members who wish to form a working group must submit a proposed charter that includes: A group name and a mission statement which includes the goals and objectives of the working group. If there is interest in forming a working group, members are encouraged to start by forming a committee.
An initial strategy for achieving the stated objectives Must include proposed meeting frequency. If the working group plans on holding outward facing events, should include proposed frequency of events Must include a timeline for objectives and any proposed campaigns Must include strategy for outreach, internally in CNJ DSA and/or externally Must include communication methods, internally in CNJ DSA and/or externally
A list of at least ten prospective members (including two who are designated as Coordinators) signed by those members. The duties of the Coordinators include delegating the responsibilities of the working group (not executing all responsibilities themselves.) Working groups may decide how they will create an infrastructure and if there will be a steering committee. At least five of the members should be trained on organizing and planning strategic campaigns. CNJ DSA Steering Committee must provide opportunities for trainings on organizing and planning strategic campaigns. It is strongly recommended that there is a procedure for onboarding new members; providing training on working group activities and organizing skills; communication methods; fundraising if funds are needed (other than general administration costs like printing and meeting supplies); outreach to coalition partners; record-keeping; social media and report-backs.)
If it is anticipated that the proposed working group will seek authorization to expend the chapter’s funds, a short explanation of the anticipated use of those funds and an estimate of the amount to be spent. If the amount of funds needed is less than $50, expenditures may be authorized by the Steering Committee. The funds may include printing costs for literature, supplies for holding a meeting, etc. For a proposal of funds over $50, the working group would apply for authorization for chapter funds by majority vote at a chapter meeting.
Prior to the formation of the working group, it should referred to as “Proposed Working Group” A proposed working group shall be recognized and chartered with the approval of a majority of the votes cast at a monthly General or Special meeting. Coordinators of the working group must send the charter to the Chapter SC so the charter can be published on the agenda or announced to the membership at least 7 days prior to the meeting.
After a working group is chartered, responsibilities include: A representative from the working group must provide a report-back to the general membership at the monthly General chapter meeting. Social media accounts for working groups may only be started after the working group has been given a charter by the general membership. Membership in working groups is to be open to all members in good standing.
Section 3. Membership and Election of Coordinators
The founders of a proposed committee or working group must designate two temporary Coordinators. Temporary Coordinators will serve once the group is chartered; an election for committee leadership must then be held at no later than the second meeting following ratification. Ratified committees and working groups must elect at least two Coordinators and may also elect someone to serve as their deputy. Terms will last either 6 months or one year. Unless no candidates who do not identify as male choose to stand in the election, at least one of the Coordinators elected must not identify as male.
All Coordinators are encouraged to attend CNJ DSA Steering Committee meetings. In the interest of sharing leadership opportunities and elevating rank and file members, Coordinators of committees and working groups (including steering committee) cannot chair more than one committee or working group unless no other eligible members wish to run.
Section 4. Duties and Responsibilities
The members of a committee or working group are responsible for executing their respective body’s strategy in fulfillment of its objectives. Coordinators are responsible for organizing their respective body’s members, running meetings, acting as liaisons to the Steering Committee, and serving as the body’s points of contact to the CNJ DSA membership.
Committees and Working Groups should keep official records of meeting dates, attendance, and meeting notes, which must be made available to the CNJ DSA membership.
Section 5. Review, Modification, and Dissolution
A committee’s or working group’s activities shall be reviewed by the Steering Committee at the Regular Steering Committee meetings. Committees and working groups shall report on their activities to the CNJ DSA membership at the monthly General chapter meeting.
Existing committees and working groups may amend their charters with the approval of a majority of the votes cast at a monthly General or Special meeting. Proposed amendments to a committee’s or working group’s charter must be published on the agenda or announced to the membership at least 7 days prior to the meeting.
Committees that are chartered as temporary committees shall dissolve automatically upon the expiration of the certain time or occurrence of the particular event specified in their charter. All other committees shall continue in existence indefinitely unless dissolved by a majority of the votes cast at a monthly General or Special meeting. If the Coordinators of a committee step down or their term ends, and no one chooses to step up in an election for replacements, the committee will be dissolved.
Working groups shall also continue in existence indefinitely unless dissolved by a majority of the votes cast at a Regular, Special, or General meeting, or by the resignation or unanimous consent of the working group’s active members. If the Coordinators of a working group step down or their term ends, and no one chooses to step up in an election for replacements, the working group will be dissolved.
Upon dissolution, the member(s) maintaining custody of the committee’s or working group’s records shall provide copies of those records to the Secretary.
Section 6. Finally, each committee and working group shall present a report on their activities to the general membership of CNJ DSA twice annually. This report shall be drafted and made available to the general membership one week prior to the meeting at which it is to be presented. This report should inform the chapter of the progress of the committee or working group’s major efforts, and discuss both what successes the committee or working group has found, as well as analyze what has not worked well. The general membership will provide advice and constructive feedback to the committee or working group to help improve operations and to better align the committee or working group’s efforts with the overall base-building strategy of the chapter.
This report should also contain a rough plan of the committee or working group’s activities for the following 6-month period. The committee or working group may present a set of asks or tasks which the committee or working group could use assistance from the general membership of the chapter, either on a short term or ongoing basis, and use this report as an opportunity for recruitment.
Once discussion of the committee or working group’s report has concluded, the general assembly must approve the report and affirm that the committee or working group’s goals for the upcoming period align with the chapter’s mission. If the general assembly does not approve of the goals, the committee or working group must make an amended plan to address issues raised and present this plan at the next month’s general assembly meeting for approval by the general assembly. A committee or working group whose 6-month plans are repeatedly rejected by the assembly may be subject to a vote by the assembly to dissolve the committee or working group as described above.
ARTICLE X. ELECTORAL ACTION
The CNJ DSA may engage in electoral action by endorsing or running candidates.
Section 1.0 Qualifying for an endorsement vote To qualify for an endorsement vote from the chapter, a candidate must: A. Publicly identify as a socialist;
B. Be a member of DSA, another socialist organization, or running with the backing of labor unions and progressive community organizations;
C. Present a petition demonstrating the support of at least ten chapter members; and
D. Respond to the chapter’s candidate questionnaire. The candidate questionnaire must be drafted by one or more members and approved by a majority vote at a chapter meeting.
Section 2.0 Endorsement A. Any candidate that fulfills the requirements is eligible to be voted on for endorsement by a two-thirds vote (of those voting) at a chapter meeting.
B. The endorsement resolution must describe any work the chapter will undertake, if any, following from the endorsement.
C. Financial or in-kind contributions must be authorized in a separate resolution and the legal ramifications should be reported on by the proposing member(s).
ARTICLE XI. Harassment and Grievance Policy
Central NJ Democratic Socialists (“CNJ DSA”) is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of gender, race, or class, to organize without fear of harassment. We aim to design a space that amplifies and protects marginalized voices by developing a policy for reporting grievances based on the harassment policy Resolution 33 which was passed at the DSA National Convention in August 2017, while adding several extra protections not guaranteed by the Resolution and an eye towards restorative justice, healing, and victim support.
DSA’s national harassment policy can be found at: https://www.dsausa.org/about-us/harassment-policy-resolution-33/
Section 1.0 Policy Overview
A. Scope Of This Policy
Prohibited behavior. Members shall not engage in harassment on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, disability, race, color, religion, national origin, class, age, or profession. Harassing or abusive behavior, such as unwelcome attention, inappropriate or offensive remarks, slurs, or jokes, physical or verbal intimidation, stalking, inappropriate physical contact or proximity, and other verbal and physical conduct constitute harassment when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a member’s continued affiliation with DSA;
- Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for organizational decisions affecting such individual; or
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile environment interfering with an individual’s capacity to organize within DSA.
- Other protected classes. Harassment based on categories not encompassed by those listed section (a) will be evaluated at the discretion of the Harassment and Grievance Officer (“HGO”) and Steering Committee (“SC”) representatives.
- Members may also file grievances not directed at a specific individual, such as hostile environments and other systemic issues. Investigation in these cases shall center and seek to support the grievant in determining the appropriate remedy.
B. Reporting Harassment
Complaints. Members may follow the standard complaint process as set out in the following sections if they believe they have been harassed by another member. Time Limitations. There will be no time limits requiring the grievant to file a report within any amount of time after the alleged harassment has occurred.
C. This document describes the complaint procedure adopted by CNJ DSA. If any grievant does not feel that their concerns can be adequately addressed by CNJ DSA, they may pursue a complaint with National Grievance Officers and the NPC without going through the Chapter procedure first.
D. The SC of CNJ DSA will publicize this policy and make HGO contact information available to membership as often as possible, including, but not limited to: Chapter- wide emails, meeting agendas, social media, and online chapter communication platforms.
Section 2.0 Harassment and Grievance Officers
A. Membership shall elect two members to serve as HGOs. Due to the gendered nature of many harassment complaints at the National level, no more than one HGO may be cismale. HGOs may not be SC members, but may run for Steering Committee when their HGO term has ended. Election of HGOs will follow standard procedures outlined in the Chapter bylaws. HGOs will serve staggered two-year terms.
B. HGO Responsibilities
- Receive, acknowledge receipt of, and archive grievant reports
- Contact the accused to notify them of the accusations, request their written response, and archive any written response
- Conduct any necessary investigation of the claim
- Present their findings to the Steering Committee with a written report.
- If necessary, take disciplinary action and report the discipline administered to the Steering Committee.
- Present an anonymized version of the report to deliver to membership after conclusion of an investigation. The HGOs may make exceptions to anonymity in service of the restorative justice process, in the case of any member who has been removed from the chapter permanently or temporarily as a result of the investigation.
- Compile a yearly report that details:
- How many reports were made
- How many were taken to the formal disciplinary process
- How many disciplinary actions were taken
- Any recommended changes for making the reporting system effective, preferably informed by survey of membership
C. Removal of an HGO.
An HGO may resign at any time. If an HGO fails to perform their duties fairly, diligently, and ethically, there may be cause for removal. The SC may remove an HGO by majority vote after the HGO is informed of the cause for removal and given the opportunity to self- advocate to the SC.
Section 3.0 Complaints
A. Making A Complaint The SC will establish a confidential email for submitting complaints, which is monitored only by the HGOs. Login information will be changed at each new term or sooner. The SC will make a complaint form available upon request that is linked to the HGO email.
On the form, the grievant may have the option to submit the complaint as an emergency, in which case an expedited investigation will take place. If a grievant objects to both HGOs viewing a complaint, they may contact one HGO directly and confidentially. The identities of all involved parties will remain confidential to everyone who is not an HGO, including the SC (and at the request of the grievant, disclosure may also be denied to the HGO not currently investigating the case), pending the outcome of the investigation, except as necessary for a complete investigation. Multiple complaints against one person may be consolidated into a single investigation. Any grievant may veto this consolidation. Grievants have the right to a proxy or representative of their choosing to speak on their behalf and act as the primary contact with HGOs throughout the investigation.
An HGO is required to recuse themselves from any investigation involving either a complainant or accused who is a close friend or family member of the HGO, or with whom the HGO has an extensive working relationship or past or present romantic or sexual relationship. An HGO should also recuse themselves if other conflicts would present an appearance of impropriety. Such potential conflicts may be raised by any party or by any member of leadership at the outset of an investigation and may be determined by other
Section 4.0 Responding To A Complaint
A. Informal conversation/mediation
Some complaints may be resolved without the need for a formal grievance process. In this case, there may be an informal conversation between parties mediated by an HGO. In an informal mediation, all parties must attend voluntarily and express a desire for resolution; the HGO remains neutral; each person has the ability to state their perspectives uninterrupted; the mediator may follow the general structure of affective questioning; and the goal is to find a solution to the conflict that is primarily developed and mutually agreed upon by all parties. a final summary of the conversation is made available to the SC, but the SC does not participate in the results of the mediation.
B. Filing Official Grievance.
After a written report has been submitted, whether through the email hotline or otherwise:
- The HGO(s) will contact the grievant within three days to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and set up a conversation.
- The HGO(s) will contact the accused member within five days to notify them that a report has been filed against them and request a written response to the report either affirming or denying its substance.
- The accused will submit their written response within seven days of being notified. If the accused fails to meet this deadline or request an extension, the HGO will consult the grievant first regarding appropriate disciplinary measures.
- If the accused denies the substance of the report, the HGO will set up a
conversation. The HGO overseeing the dispute will have the option to investigate the report by:
- interviewing other members with direct knowledge of the substance of the report;
- requesting documentation from either the grievant or accused or any other parties directly involved; or
- employing any and all other means deemed necessary, with the utmost respect for the confidentiality and emotional needs of the parties, within a time period not to exceed ten days.
- When victims are closed out of the disciplinary process, they are re-victimized. In order to avoid replicating the oppressive structures of our current judicial system, before reaching a conclusion, the HGO(s) will schedule a final conversation with the grievant following the general guidelines of post-conflict affective questioning. The purpose is to amplify the voices of victims and consider their needs and perspectives when moving forward with disciplinary action or otherwise.
C. The HGO(s) responsible for investigating the dispute will determine whether the report is credible and take appropriate disciplinary action, if necessary, as soon as practicable, without exceeding thirty days. The HGO(s) may notify SC of the accuser’s report and its substance at any time after the report is filed, but must give written notice to both the accuser and the accused member before doing so.
Section 5.0 Remedies and penalties
All reports will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the HGO(s) associated with the accuser’s reporting channel. The ultimate determination in each case will be made by the HGO(s).
B. Standard for Determining if a Report is Credible
The HGOs will find a factual allegation is “credible” if it more-likely-than-not occurred.
C. Remedies and Penalties
- If the HGOs find a factual allegation to be credible, they are authorized to carry
out disciplinary action, which may include:
- A formal discussion between the accused and the HGOs and/or Steering Committee to develop a plan for repairing the harm;
- Suspension from committee meetings and other chapter or organizational events;
- Removal from chapter committee(s);
- Removal from the chapter; and
- Any and all other relief deemed necessary and just by the HGO(s).
- The SC will enforce any suspensions or expulsions in accordance with chapter procedures.
Section 6.0 Appeals Process
A. Either party may appeal the final result of the grievance by filling out an appeal form, available upon request from an HGO or the Steering Committee. Appeals must be filed within thirty days of receiving written notice of the decision. The limited grounds for appeal are:
- Either party believes the behavior was not interpreted using the standards for harassment set out in Section 1a;
- Procedural errors, misconduct, or conflicts of interest affected the fairness of the outcome; and
- The remedy or penalty determined by the HGOs was disproportionate to the violation committed
B. Appeals will be heard by the Harassment and Grievance Officers of North or South Jersey DSA, provided they have adopted a policy agreeing to this arrangement. They will follow Central Jersey’s grievance policy in deciding the appeal.
C. Nothing in this policy can limit a member’s right to file an appeal directly with the national organization.
Section 7.0 Retaliation
This policy prohibits retaliation against any member for bringing a complaint of harassment pursuant to this policy. This policy also prohibits retaliation against a person who assists someone with a complaint of harassment, or participates in any manner in an investigation or resolution of a complaint of discrimination or harassment. Retaliatory behaviors includes threats, intimidation, reprisals, and/or adverse actions related to organizing. If any party to the complaint believes there has been retaliation, they may inform the HGO who will determine whether to factor the retaliation into the original complaint, or treat it as an individual incident.
ARTICLE XII. AMENDMENTS TO THE BYLAWS
These bylaws may be amended by a two-thirds vote at a regular chapter meeting. Any amendment that is introduced at a meeting must have an online poll that will be opened by the following chapter email and must remain open for one week.
ARTICLE XIII. CHAPTER RESOLUTIONS
Section 1.0 Introduction of a Resolution
Any member in good standing of the Central New Jersey chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America may introduce a resolution to be debated and voted on by the Chapter Membership. A resolution to be considered must be submitted to the Steering Committee at least (3) three days prior to the scheduled Chapter Meeting. The Steering Committee shall allot adequate time for the resolution to be read aloud in the subsequent Chapter Meeting.
Section 2.0 Debate and Discussion
During the chapter meeting following the submission of the resolution to the Steering Committee, the resolution shall be read aloud. The resolution should be read aloud by an author of the resolution or a representative designated by an author. By default, the resolution will then be debated during the Chapter Meeting, posted publicly, and voted on in the subsequent seven days following the Chapter Meeting.
Once the resolution has been read, any member may make a motion to table debate and voting on the resolution until at least one additional discussion on the resolution can be held. If the motion is seconded, is voted on, and passes; the Steering Committee will schedule at least one (1) meeting throughout the subsequent month. Membership will be given at least seven (7) days notification about these meetings.
The rules governing this motion shall be in accordance with the appendices of these bylaws.
Following this chapter meeting, the resolution shall be posted on the chapter’s main communication platform and sent out in the next issue of the Chapter’s newsletter.
Any proposed changes to the resolution must be introduced prior to the time allotted for debate, discussed during the time allotted for debate, or introduced at the Chapter Meeting as an amendment.
If voting on the resolution was tabled at the Chapter Meeting where the resolution was introduced, the resolution with any changes made during the debate period will be re-read at the subsequent Chapter Meeting, after which the chapter will hold formal debate on the matter.
Section 3.0 Voting
Following the final reading at the Chapter Meeting, the resolution shall be posted and sent to the membership for voting. Voting will remain open for seven days, after which time the voting credentials of all voters shall be certified by the Membership Coordinator in accordance with Article VII, Section 6.0. A simple majority of votes by members in good standing (more ‘yes’ votes than ‘no’ votes) shall be sufficient to pass the resolution and make it binding upon the Chapter until such time that the text of the adopted resolution terminates it, or until it is retracted, in part or in full, by a later resolution of the Chapter. In the event that there are an equal number of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes, the vote shall not pass, and the resolution shall not be adopted.
Rules of Order
Rules and procedure for meetings, as adapted from the rules of the Portland General Membership Branch of the IWW.
Decisions are made by a majority vote of present chapter members in good standing. A majority is more than half of those voting—that is, there are more yes votes than no votes.
Meetings should be businesslike and efficient. The tone should be one of mutual respect. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated.
Members may speak only when recognized by the chair. When speaking in the meeting, address the group as a whole. No discussion is permitted unless a main motion is pending, in which case only comments germane to the pending motion are in order. This requirement may be relaxed to allow for free discussion, for example after an educational presentation, by a majority vote or allotment on the agenda.
An agenda must be approved as the first order of business at any meeting. Times may be assigned to agenda items. If one agenda item is pending when the time for the following item comes, the former must be immediately put to a vote, unless a motion to dispose of it in some other way is introduced (e.g. tabling, postponing, or referring), or the agenda is amended to allow for more time.
If there are any motions that have been carried over to the current meeting from a previous one, they should be included under the heading of unfinished business.
Making a Main Motion
A Main Motion concerns business to be carried out by the group. There may be only one main motion on the floor at a given time. The motion is stated, beginning with: “I move that…” The motion should be clear and concise. If the motion is not seconded it dies.
Discussion and Amendment
If the motion is seconded, it is repeated by the chair, to establish the exact wording. At this point the motion is discussed. No member may speak twice on a motion until each member that wishes to speak has been heard. Possible exception to this rule would be to allow the maker of the motion to explain and clarify. No member may speak for more than five minutes at a time.
Any member may move to amend the main motion during this discussion. Such motions must also be seconded, and are open for discussion. If the amendment passes a majority vote, discussion resumes on the newly-revised main motion. The original maker of the main motion may not unilaterally make or accept a “friendly amendment” to the motion—once it has been stated by the chair, a motion “belongs” to the assembled meeting as a whole, and can only be amended by vote or unanimous consent.
A vote on the main motion is taken when discussion is completed. A voice vote or uncounted show of hands will usually be sufficient in cases where the result is clear or uncontroversial, but any member may call for a counted vote without being recognized by the chair. If the call is seconded, a counted vote shall be taken. A secret ballot may be required by a majority vote. Often, the chair can seek unanimous consent, by asking if there is any objection to the motion. If any member objects, a vote must be taken. If there is no objection, the motion passes.
Discussion may also be closed by a motion to call the question, which requires a 2/3 vote. If this motion passes, the chapter immediately moves to a vote on the pending motion.
Once a motion has been adopted, it may be rescinded or amended by a majority vote at the same meeting, but only if the motion to rescind or amend is made by somebody who voted in favor of the original motion. This rule protects the chapter from repeated reversals if a majority temporarily becomes a slight minority—if one or two people leave the room after a long vote, for example. This restriction does not carry across meetings.
Procedural Points and Motions
Points of Procedure and Procedural Motions speak to the process of the meeting. They are in order at any time and must be dealt with right away, before going on with the meeting.
A Procedural Motion must be seconded and voted on by the group. This should be done quickly, so as not to distract from the main business at hand. These motions require a majority vote to pass:
- To lay on the table (Temporarily set aside a main motion to deal with a pressing item of business. The original motion is taken up again once the interrupting one has been disposed of.)
- To postpone indefinitely (Kills the main motion)
- To postpone to a certain time
- To refer (to committee or wherever)
- To adjourn
- To recess (take a break)
- To overrule the chair
- To replace the chair
- To divide the question (separate the main motion into several main motions to be taken up sequentially. This can only be done if each of the proposed parts can stand on its own independently.)
- To consider by paragraph or section (each section of a long motion is opened up to discussion and amendment, one at a time. Then, the whole motion is open to discussion and amendment before a final vote.)
- To enter executive session (only chapter members and guests approved by majority vote are permitted to attend)
These require a 2/3 vote:
- To call the question
- To censure a member
- To expel (must be preceded by a motion to censure, except in case of immediate danger. This motion expels the individual from the meeting, not the organization.)
- To limit or extend the limits of debate (to increase or decrease the number and length of speeches per member, or to set a time that discussion of a motion must end)
Points of Procedure:
The maker raises their hand and speaks out: “Point of Procedure” (or “Point of Order”). The chair must recognize the member immediately.
Point of Personal Privilege: It’s too hot, too stuffy, can’t hear the speaker, etc. Very useful for clarifying what is going on. If it’s unclear to you what’s happening, you’re probably not the only one.
Point of Procedure (or Order): This is a suggestion as to how to carry out the business better, or an objection to the way the rules have been followed or interpreted. It is ruled on by the chair. The ruling can be challenged and the point made into a motion. Don’t get too carried away here, please.
The chair should aim to serve as an impartial facilitator of the group decision-making process. As such, they cannot make motions or participate in discussion. They cannot vote unless their vote would change the outcome, or if the vote is by secret ballot.
If the chair really needs to do these things, they must pass the chair on to another member for the duration of that item of business. This shouldn’t happen very often.
The chair is to oversee the process of the meeting to insure that the following criteria are met:
- That the business moves along quickly.
- The chair must keep track of the time. A timekeeper may be appointed by the chair if needed.
- That the Agenda is followed.
- That each item of business is taken care of.
- That each member who wishes to participate is encouraged and given that opportunity.
- That none dominates the meeting and speaks excessively at the expense of the others.
- That the meeting is carried out in accordance with the rules and procedures agreed upon by the group.
- That the process is clear, understandable, accessible and transparent to the members. The chair should make sure all members are aware of the pending motion and the effects of any vote before it is taken, and should frequently invite questions about the current item of business.
- That an atmosphere and tone of mutual respect is maintained. The chair, in the name of the group, does not allow disrespect, insult or personal attack in the meeting.
- The chair may not take part in the business of the meeting. They can and should offer suggestions for the sake of clarity and to move the business along. The chair may suggest a motion or procedure, and help members to frame their own motions.