Member statements for an against the proposals and amendments will be posted here.
Chapter Resolution 1: Build a Bench for a 2022 DSA-LA Slate
Chapter Resolution 2: Municipal Program Resolution 2020 (Combined with Resolution 1 by authors.)
Chapter Resolution 3: In Response to Crisis: A Proposal For A Neighborhood Solidarity Program by DSA-LA
Chapter Resolution 4: A Socialist Commitment to Black Liberation
Please note: the number designations were randomly chosen and do not indicate the order in which resolutions will appear in the program for the convention
Bylaws Amendment 1: On the Role of Caucuses
Authors: Chantel W., Melissa W., Jacob A., Brian W., Brandon R.
Text: Article V. Section 6.
Caucuses will be established to organize independently around shared interests and identities. This definition excludes caucuses established on political tendency or ideology alone. Caucuses are not considered similarly Local Subgroups. Their activities can be far more varied than Committees and Working Groups, and may take on a number of different projects or functions in relation to Local,
committee, and working group goals, including but not limited to promoting certain policies or actions, planning independent events, and challenging existing Local policies.
Caucuses are required to identify a point person for the rest of the Local, who will serve as the main contact for other Groups and the Steering Committee.
Caucuses are eligible to receive Local resources, including funding or ongoing access to posting on Local public-facing communications channels through approvals from the Steering Committee. Caucuses are also able to fundraise independently through DSA in order to maintain local chapter funding to support the organizing efforts. They also cannot propose a Local-wide endorsement as a group, and would instead need to partner with an Internal Resource Committee, Issue-based Committee, or Campaign-based Working Group or submit the proposal as individual members (as outlined in Article VI, Section 3).
Currently identity and interest caucuses have no official relation to DSA-LA. Without access to funding or other resources like communications, marginalized groups are met with additional challenges of connecting with similar members. By allowing caucuses to have access to resources, it creates a much more vibrant organizing culture where different perspectives can recruit, engage, and retain membership in meaningful personal ways. As the bylaws are currently written, caucuses are restricted. Removal of Caucuses from the bylaws would leave the Steering Committee under no obligation to acknowledge their work as legitimate bodies. By adopting this change, Caucuses are protected and encouraged to contribute to the chapter.
- Cultivate a culture of openness, respect, and camaraderie by aiming to meet people where they are and assume good intentions, recognizing that everyone comes to organizing from different perspectives and experiences.
- Develop internal capacity to recruit, engage and retain our members across the racial and socioeconomic divisions of Los Angeles, and connect members to each other regionally, while also challenging instead of reifying those divisions.
Bylaws Amendments 2 & 3: Bylaws Editing Commission Report
Below is an section from the full Final Report of the Bylaws Editing Commission of the Los Angeles Local of the Democratic Socialists of America
Please note that Appendix items A and B will be voted on separately.
Committee: Sergio D (chair), Kristina M, Blaire C-C (resigned), Tal L, Erin O-R, Michael L
1. Adoption of attached “Bylaws Amendments” and consideration of “Co-Chairs Amendment”
Our Commission recommends that the chapter adopt two attached bylaws amendments, one large-scale streamlining of the bylaws, and one amendment, offered separately, to establish chapter co-chairs.
2. Standing Committees
Our commission’s recommended bylaws include a new local subgroup category, for “standing committees”. To the commission’s knowledge, there are three existing DSA-LA structures that fit or should fit the definition of the Standing Committee: the Administrative Committee, the Communications Committee, and the Finance & Fundraising Committee. The latter two committees have not historically functioned in a regular manner, and the commission hopes that with a more specific structure, they become more consistent bodies.
The commission recommended changes establishing an Electoral Standing Committee, based on similar structures in other chapters and based on the Electoral Politics Committee leadership unanimously suggesting the same.
Additionally, the commission considered amendments that would transition several other existing committees to be standing committees, based both on internal assessments of their work and on similar committees existing as standing committees in chapters we surveyed. The commission decided against encoding these additional standing committees in the bylaws, but we recommend that the Local consider transitioning these and potentially other existing committees into standing committees at future Local meetings.
3. Transitions for Committees
Under the new bylaws, all other existing chapter committees (listed below) would be recategorized as “Committees”. These bylaws do not significantly change their functioning, though we encourage committees to continuously re-evaluate their internal function.
- Mutual Aid
- Political Education
- Climate Justice
- Healthcare Justice
- Prison Abolition
- Housing & Homelessness
- Immigration Justice
Summary of Important Bylaw Changes in Each Article
These changes to the Bylaws have been approved by all 5 members of the commission.
Articles I & II
Language was adopted from other chapter bylaws in case of the “absence of geographical boundaries” from the national organization, and specifying that members of DSA-LA may not be members of other DSA chapters.
The sections on membership of branches was moved to a Article V, which outlines branches, and the section on Local Subgroup membership was removed, in line with broader recategorization of Local Subgroups.
Section 1 was added, defining “Chapter Meetings”, a term which had previously been used in the bylaws but was not otherwise defined. In accordance with the removal of Article VI, it was specified that any decision or question may be referred to a Chapter Meeting by a petition of fifty members. This is in line with the previous mechanisms in Article VI, by which decisions made by the Steering Committee could be overturned by a petition of 50 members.
Chapter Resolutions were renamed “Priority Resolutions” to distinguish them from other proposals that are voted on at the chapter level. The timeline for submitting and releasing bylaws amendments and priority resolutions, which was significantly longer than other similar chapters’, was shortened.
The sections on “Local Meetings” and “Branch Meetings” were combined, as several surveyed members indicated that the distinction between these two meeting types were unclear, and the language in these two sections was contradictory and vague. Language was added to specify that Local Business may not be voted on unless all Branches had an opportunity to hear and discuss the question.
Emergency meetings were renamed “Special Meetings”, and a mechanism was added to allow for membership-called Special Meetings.
The section on quorum was modified to specify that the “floor” for quorum counts members present and voting.
A new Article V was added, taking all language regarding branches from the bylaws, to distinguish Branches from other local subgroups. In Section 2, “Purpose”, it was specified that the primary purpose of Branches is to implement and administer Local campaigns and projects. In Section 2, “Membership”, the definition of branch membership was modified to maintain consistency with Local membership. Finally, all references to “the chapter” were changed to “the Local” to maintain consistency.
No other language regarding branches was changed.
Significant changes were recommended in Article VI:
DSA-LA Internal Resource and Issue-Based committees were re-organized into a single category, “Committees”. In practice, these local subgroups have largely functioned in a similar way, and they are currently subject to the rules under the Bylaws, which have not been changed. Language regarding Committee platforms was amended to remove requirements that platforms specify concrete goals, or that they include both a platform and mission statement. Many of our interviews indicated that members did not see significant value in detailed platforms or mission statements, and many members were unaware that they existed.
References to “membership of the Local Subgroup” was removed – all Local Subgroup officers would be elected by the broader chapter membership. The section on Local Subgroup officer recall was removed, and the process for Local Subgroup Officer recall was incorporated into Article VII, Section 3 (Local Officer Recalls).
It was specified that the Local membership also has the right to dissolve Local Subgroups, as the highest body of the Local.
New Local Subgroups
Two new local subgroup types were created, to reflect structures that have already emerged in the chapter: Time-Bound Working Groups and Standing Committees.
Time-bound working groups, which had previously been identified as “Campaign-Based Working Groups”, have been written to allow more flexibility in working group structure. While Working Groups will, by default, be structure in the same way as Committees, the Commission heard feedback from several members that requiring that structure was overly deterministic, particularly with regards to electoral campaign working groups, which may form in Fall for a March primary, and then be required to re-elect leadership in January.
Standing Committees were defined, based on models in the Bylaws of other chapters, in order to give formalization to existing structures in DSA-LA: the Communications Committee, Finance & Fundraising Committee, and Administrative Committee. Standing Committees are to be formed to oversee and administer a specific function on behalf of the local that is not well-achieved by open committees, with a rotating roster of membership.
Though the Commission discussed transitioning some existing committees to standing committees in these bylaws, we chose not to formalize that in these bylaws and instead outlined non-binding recommendations in Section 4 of this report, to respect the will of the local in identifying and converting key committees to standing committees.
Responses to our leadership surveys revealed that most active members recognize that, currently, there is not a shared consensus or majority opinion on the place of caucus structurally. Many, though not all, survey responses indicated a belief that caucuses should not be forbidden from receiving chapter resources, but that they should instead be addressed on an individual basis.. Additionally, respondents in both the survey for chapter leaders and general membership expressed that there is an overall desire to improve and facilitate the functioning of the LGBTQ+ Caucus; Afrosocialists Caucus; and Asian and Pacific Islander Caucuses, though there was not a consensus on the proper way to do this. For this reason, the commission recommends removing all language governing caucuses. Instead, the commission recommends that the Chapter work with the each of the previously mentioned caucuses and similar caucuses, centered around historically marginalized groups, to pass resolutions at subsequent local meetings to formalizing their relationship to the chapter, identifying their areas of work (e.g. recruitment, education, etc) they would like to provide the chapter, and a process for which they can request Chapter resources. The commission believes this will offer flexibility and space for each such caucus to set their unique organizing terms within the chapter.
In accordance with changes to the definitions of “Local Subgroup Membership”, the sections on electing and recalling Local Subgroup Officers were moved to Article VII, which outlines elections and recalls for all chapter officers.
Based on study of other chapter bylaws and RONR best practices, the commission voted to remove Article VI, previously titled “Local Decision Making”. Our interviews indicated that this article was excessively confusing, and the commission determined that chapter structure would be better outlined by identifying specific deliberative bodies and their respective responsibilities.
Sections 1-3 was modified to include Local Subgroup Officers. A section outlining best-practice trainings for new Local Subgroup Officers was removed, to instead be included in the Local’s Standing Rules.
The Commission largely agreed, based on feedback from current and past Steering Committee members, and based on study of other Chapter Bylaws, that it would be preferable for DSA-LA’s Steering Committee to have fewer at-large positions and more positions with specific roles. Though the commission discussed several options to achieve these, we settled on adding a single role for a “Campaigns Coordinator”, to track chapter campaigns and coalitions across its various Subgroups, a position adapted from Chicago DSA’s structure, and to offer a second bylaws amendment establishing chapter co-chairs, as every external chapter, bar Metro DC, we interviewed had co-chairs and spoke positively of their role.
The only amendment to this article is maintaining consistency with the establishment of the Campaigns Coordinator.
As the Inter-Subgroup Officer Forum is not a deliberative body, this article was removed in order based on bylaws best practices: that bylaws be focused primarily on structural considerations and deliberative bodies. We recommend that the ISOF continue as a chapter best practice in its Standing Rules and policies.
This article has been replaced by an article updating the governing rules on electoral work within the chapter. Section 1 outlines the process for electoral endorsements, specifying that the ability to approve endorsements only lies with the chapter membership. It empowers the Electoral Committee to establish additional standing rules and processes for qualifying endorsements, while allowing its decisions to be appealed by member petition.
Section 2. Establishes a standing Electoral Committee. It places the responsibility of initial intake on endorsement proposals within that committee with an eye towards advancing a chapter-wide electoral strategy. The 5 members of the Electoral Committee would be elected by the chapter membership and be responsible for continuing to facilitate open meetings and projects for the broader membership to contribute to electoral work and strategy, while being ultimately responsible to the Local membership. This change was separately endorsed by the leadership of the current Electoral Politics Committee.
These articles were not amended, except to adjust their numbering for the deleted Article VI.
Appendix A. Recommended Revisions of the Bylaws of the Local
BYLAWS OF THE LOS ANGELES LOCAL OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA
ARTICLE I. NAME
The name of the Local shall be DSA-LA (Democratic Socialists of America – Los Angeles).
ARTICLE II. MISSION
As a national organization, the Democratic Socialists of America is poised to be a significant mass organization in the resurgence of a popular socialist movement in the United States. As one of the largest Locals in the organization, DSA-LA has the responsibility to clearly define our own mission statement and priorities, and articulate how those support the advancement of a democratic socialist political agenda at the local, state, national, and international level.
We are committed to envisioning and working towards a transformative politics that shifts power from capital to people. In all of our work, we aim to strike an intentional balance between challenging and resisting the systemic oppression of capitalism, sexism, racism, heteropatriarchy and xenophobia, and imagining radical alternatives for a new social, economic, and political reality. We will organize with ambitious and emancipatory ends in mind, such as raising the collective consciousness of all people’s struggles and normalizing guaranteed rights that have been denatured under capitalism, while seeking concrete material wins and outcomes at every opportunity. We are an organization of the people, fighting without compromise for equality of outcome over equality of opportunity.
Within our ranks, we aim to exist along organizational lines developed and led by members, not an order imposed on members from above. DSA-LA should always be a deeply participatory organization whose processes and protocols reflects its values – democratic, transparent, and engaged in ongoing struggle against oppressive and unequal power structures.
Our approach to organizing reflects our understanding of capitalism, which is a complex artificially-imposed system that evolves dynamically in response to challenges.
Our work needs to accommodate a variety of viewpoints, avoid exclusivity around tactics, and prioritize productive debate over the pursuit of unanimous consensus.
Our identity as a multi-tendency organization is an asset and something that we embrace to its full advantage, and we are committed to intentionally incorporating minority viewpoints and diverse political perspectives into all of our work rather than striving to mandate agreement among all our members.
We recognize that the Left in the United States has been historically weakened and fractured, and the Left in Los Angeles is no exception. Indeed, Los Angeles has been developed by capitalist structures along deep regional, racial, and class stratifications that offer significant unique challenges to building strong Left unity, and it must be our goal to challenge and transcend these divisions. Rebuilding and manifesting a strong socialist presence and power in Los Angeles and beyond will require looking at the Left as a complex ecosystem, and defining our role within it accordingly. DSA-LA aims to be an influential participant of that ecosystem by acting as a true resource and defining our power in service, not in governance or authority over other organizations in the Left in Los Angeles. Our goals encompass our participation in rebuilding a strong Left for everyone, not just members of our organization, and we do not wish to become a totalizing force or offer a singular solution to organizing on the Left. Instead, we aspire to build strength through solidarity, and offer a challenging alternative to capitalism for everyone.
This approach also applies within our own organization. We are conscious that our role as a large Local within a growing organization is not to enforce our political vision onto the rest of DSA, but to coordinate efforts in a productive and comradely way. We believe that our Local has a great deal to offer DSA National and other DSA Locals, and similarly that they have much to offer us. We further recognize that our mission statement and priorities must be reevaluated in response to changing political realities.
ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP
SECTION 1. MEMBERSHIP
Members of the Los Angeles Local, DSA-LA will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, who reside and/or work in parts of the Los Angeles County area allocated to the Los Angeles Local by the DSA National organization. In the absence of precise geographical boundaries determined by DSA, the geographical boundaries of the Local will be stated in the Standing Rules of the Local. No member of the Local may hold membership in another DSA area Local or Chapter.
SECTION 2. DUTIES
It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies and guidelines for the operation of the Local, vote on matters requiring input from the full membership, contribute to Branches and Local Subgroups, and participate in elections for the Steering Committee, Branch officers, Local Subgroups, and delegates to National Conventions of DSA. Non-members may participate in Local work and attend Local meetings, but may not run or vote in Local officer elections, Branch officer elections, Local Subgroup officer elections, or the Annual Convention.
SECTION 3. REMOVAL OF MEMBERS
If a member is found to be in significant violation of the Local’s misconduct policy, the Investigative Commission responsible for fact-finding and harm assessment may recommend expulsion for certain offenses (see Misconduct Policy Section E). Expulsion must be ratified by a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Steering Committee. Such a vote may also be called if a member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization, if they engage in entryist behavior, or if they are acting under the discipline of any self-defined democratic-centralist organization. An expelled member may make an appeal at the National level to the appropriate officer.
SECTION 3. DUES
The Local may establish a Local pledge system of voluntary donations for its members.
ARTICLE IV. LOCAL MEETINGS
SECTION 1. CHAPTER MEETINGS
The members of the Local will assemble for deliberation at an Annual Convention and in Local Meetings in order to determine and review its official activities and policies and to appoint its members to committees, commissions, offices and other important functions or roles within the Local. Other types of meetings or events commonly held by the Local, such as those for political education, open forums, organizational training, member engagement, and open hearings, will not constitute legislative bodies or make decisions that are binding upon the Local.
The agenda for any Chapter Meeting will be set by the Steering Committee or a properly appointed subcommittee. The decision of any subsidiary body of the Local, including the Steering Committee, may be automatically referred to and agendized at a Chapter Meeting by a petition of fifty (50) members, unless otherwise specified in these Bylaws.
SECTION 2. ANNUAL CONVENTION
The Local will hold an Annual Convention each year. The Annual Convention is the highest legislative body of the Local. The Annual Convention votes on modifications to the Local Mission Statement and Organizational Priorities, Priority Resolutions, and any other relevant business. Requirements for amending the bylaws are outlined in Article XIV, requirements for modifying the Local Mission Statement and Organization Priorities are outlined in Article VI. Section 1, and requirements for Priority Resolutions are outlined in this Article.
Priority Resolutions are time-bound, large-scale structural and/or campaign-based initiatives that require major Local resources. Priority Resolutions must adhere to these Bylaws and shall be undertaken over the course of the year following their adoption by the Annual Convention. Priority Resolutions can be proposed for consideration by submitting a formal proposal to the Steering Committee at least two (1) months in advance of the Annual Convention. The Steering Committee will make these proposals available for members to review at least one (2) weeks in advance of the Annual Convention and provide time on the Annual Convention agenda to discuss and vote on proposed Priority Resolutions. Steering will put out a call for proposals at least two (2) months in advance of the Annual Convention.
A proposed Priority Resolution must receive a two-thirds supermajority of votes at the Annual Convention in order to be adopted. Up to 3 Priority Resolutions will be adopted at the Annual Convention. Fewer Priority Resolutions may be adopted, but in the occasion that more than 3 proposed Priority Resolutions receive a two-thirds supermajority vote, there will be a second round of runoff voting to determine the top three Priority Resolutions. In the event of a runoff vote, each member will vote for up to three of the Priority Resolutions which have been approved by a two-thirds supermajority—the three Priority Resolutions which receive the most votes will then be adopted.
Remote votes and proxy votes shall be facilitated and counted as possible. A financial report will also be presented to the membership at the Annual Convention.
SECTION 3. LOCAL MEETINGS
The Local will hold Local meetings at least six times annually. Priority Resolutions may not be submitted for consideration at Local Meetings.
Unless otherwise determined by the Steering Committee, Local Meetings shall run concurrently within all Branches. The times, dates and sites of Local Meetings shall be set in a schedule published and distributed by the Steering Committee at least two (2) weeks prior to the meeting(s).
The Steering Committee will set the agenda for Branch Meetings in consultation with Branch Coordinators, with time reserved for Branch business to be determined by Branch Coordinators. Nothing in these bylaws shall preclude Branch Coordinators from convening branch members more frequently than called for in the schedule of Chapter Meetings. All Branch meetings shall be open to all Local members. For the purposes of considering Local business, an item must be agendized, presented and debated at a corresponding Meeting for every Branch before a vote may be called.
SECTION 4. SPECIAL MEETINGS
Special Meetings may be called by two-thirds (⅔) of the full Steering Committee, or by petition of at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the members of the Local in good standing filed with the Secretary, provided that the date for the Special Meeting called for in the petition is not set sooner than twenty-one (21) or later than sixty (60) days from its filing.
Five days written notice of the date, time, location and reason(s) for which the Special Meeting is called will be given to the members of the Local. The members assembled at a Special Meeting may not consider any business that is not included in the notice.
SECTION 5. QUORUM
A quorum of 10% of Local members, in person or by proxy, or 100 members present and voting in person, whichever is lower, must be present in order to conduct business. If applicable, absentee ballots or votes cast electronically shall count towards attaining quorum of the business which it pertains to.
Quorum for the Annual Convention or for meetings to amend these bylaws will be members comprising 10% of the membership, in person or by proxy, or 150 members present and voting in person, whichever is lower.
ARTICLE V. BRANCHES
SECTION 1. DEFINITION
A Branch is a geographically defined subdivision of the Local, not to overlap with another Branch. All members of the Local shall belong to one and only one Branch.
SECTION 2. PURPOSE
The primary purpose of Branches shall be to advance the goals of the Local, implement and administer Local campaigns and projects, increase member participation and recruitment, and improve accessibility to DSA-LA’s work. Branch Meetings shall be the primary regular membership meetings open to all members of the Local.
All Branches shall be required to have at least two officers named Coordinators (see Article V, Section 8), elected by members of the Branch. Those officers shall be responsible for ensuring that Branch meetings occur, facilitating relationship-building among Branch members, initiating geography-focused recruitment, facilitating Branch meetings, and determining the content of the Branch business portion of the agenda. Branch officers will also work in consultation with the Steering Committee to appoint additional positions as needed.
To maintain active Branch designation, Branches must hold Branch meetings in accordance with the Local Meeting schedule.
SECTION 3. MEMBERSHIP
Members of Branches will be members of the Los Angeles Local of DSA who reside within the prescribed boundaries of their Branch.
SECTION 4. FORMATION
The Steering Committee shall encourage the development of member-led initiatives to organize new branches. 50 DSA-LA members in good standing may petition the Steering Committee to form a Branch. The 50 petitioners may not include elected leadership of other Branches, and must all reside in the proposed boundaries of the Branch. One member may not be signatory to more than one proposed Branch petition simultaneously.
The Steering Committee will then consider the petition to form a new Branch. If the Steering Committee approves the proposal, it will go to a vote of the membership with the Steering Committee’s support. If the Steering Committee rejects the proposal, 50 petitioners within the proposed boundaries must be joined by 50 petitioners outside of the proposed boundaries to petition for a vote of the whole DSA-LA membership on the question. All petitioners must be members in good standing.
Each Local-wide vote on proposed Branch formation must be preceded by dedicated time at the Local Meeting, with time reserved for debate for and against the proposal. The vote passes by a simple majority, provided that at least ten percent of Local members participate in the vote, otherwise it fails.
SECTION 5. DISSOLUTION
The Steering Committee is the only body empowered to dissolve a Branch, and shall only do so in cases of nonfeasance, with a two-thirds majority vote of the Steering Committee. Nonfeasance of a Branch shall be defined as repeated failure of a Branch to convene a reasonable number of members at Branch Meetings.
ARTICLE VI. LOCAL SUBGROUPS
SECTION 1. LOCAL SUBGROUPS
The Local shall be comprised of multiple forms of subsidiary deliberative bodies, referred to collectively in this document as Local Subgroups:
Standing Committees, Committees, and time-bound Working Groups.
SECTION 2. Committees
Committees are bodies essential to the character of the Local, and may be organized around common skills, institutions, or issues. The Steering Committee or the Local may establish best practices and procedures for the democratic operation of Committees.
All Committees are required to have a platform or mission statement, developed by the committee in accordance with Local policy and ratified by a Local-wide vote (see Article V, Section 7), and at least two officers elected by the membership (see Article V, Section 8). At least one of those officers must be designated as Chair, whose primary responsibilities will be facilitating committee strategization and progress towards the Local goals that the Committee is democratically charged with by the Local membership and the Steering Committee. Another must be designated as Coordinator, whose primary responsibilities will be coordinating and communicating with other Committees and producing reports on work for the Local membership and the Steering Committee.
All Committees are required to maintain a publicly-available rules of order — where a “rules of order” is defined to include any set of explicit, formally codified, suspendable, and democratically amendable decision-making procedures—which they shall be required to use for facilitating their meetings. The default set of rules for each Subgroup shall be “Rusty’s Rules of Order, amended for DSA-LA Local Subgroups.”
To maintain active Committee designation, they must:
Have at least one member responsible for onboarding new members, engaging in member retention efforts, and ensuring that Subgroup work includes efforts to grow the membership of the Local.
Have at least one member working with the Communications Director to ensure that Local communications accurately reflect and amplify Committee work.
Produce a report, at least quarterly, sent to the Steering Committee and available digitally to all members, regarding progress in ongoing campaigns or projects charged to the Subgroup.
Produce an annual report to be submitted to each Local Convention for membership approval.
Maintain and make available to Local leadership records of key debates and decisions, including coalition partnerships.
SECTION 3. STANDING COMMITTEES
Standing Committees will (a) consist of a definite number of members in good standing of the Local not fewer than three in number; who are (b) appointed or elected to a specific task or tasks specified by either (i) the Steering Committee or (ii) the Local.
Their function will be to oversee administrative and political functions that are essential to the ongoing effectiveness of the Local in pursuing the realization of its purposes.
The chair of each standing committee will be elected along with the leadership of the other Local Subgroups. They will serve terms of the same length. The other members of the standing committee may be nominated by the chair and approved by a majority of the Steering Committee, unless an alternate method for determining committee membership is specified in the founding of the committee.
SECTION 4. TIME-BOUND WORKING GROUPS
Time-bound working groups may be established by the Steering Committee or the Local body in order to administer a particular task or campaign for the Local. The leadership, structure, and election timeframe of time-bound working groups must ordinarily match that as defined in Section 1 and Section 8, but may differ if such is specified in their founding.
SECTION 5. COMMITTEE PLATFORMS
Platforms should outline the group’s overall purpose and key stances should articulate a ‘big picture’ vision of what success would look like for the group, and should represent the group’s values and broad purpose. They should also include mention of the populations with whom the group will be working in solidarity with.
Platforms ultimately guide the direction and political will of the group. They must be developed democratically and ratified within the group before being put up for an up-or-down Local-wide vote, requiring a simple majority to pass initially and a two-thirds supermajority to pass on subsequent votes (refer to Article VI, Section 2).
SECTION 7. DISSOLUTION OF LOCAL SUBGROUPS
In the case that a Local Subgroup, is deliberately and grossly acting in contradiction to the collectively determined Local Mission and Organizational Priorities or their own ratified platform, or consistently fails to perform basic Local Subgroup duties, the Steering Committee or the Local may vote to dissolve a Local Subgroup, with a two-thirds majority vote required to execute the dissolution. The rationale and result of any such vote called must be published to the membership.
ARTICLE VII. ELECTIONS
SECTION 1. NOMINATIONS COMMITTEE
A three-person Nominations Committee shall be established at least one month prior to every Local Officer election by vote of the Local membership. The Nominations Committee shall conduct the Local Officer election. It shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected. The Nominations Committee shall also conduct Local Subgroup Officer elections following Local Officer Elections.
SECTION 2. ELECTIONS
Election for Local and Branch Officers shall be held with voting closing at least two weeks prior to the end of the previous Officers’ terms, in order to allow a two-week transition period. Elections shall be run by secret ballot. If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.
The term of office for any Local and Branch Officer shall be one year commencing the first week of January each year, with elections closing at the beginning of the third week of December.
The term of office for any elected Local Subgroup Officer shall be one year commencing the first week of February each year, with elections closing at the beginning of the third week of January, with the exception of Local Subgroup Officers established under a different structure or election schedule per Article VI, Section 4.
SECTION 3. RECALLS
As officers of the Local exist to serve the Local, any elected officer, including Local Subgroup Officers, may also be recalled by the Local. A recall vote may be triggered by petition signed by a number of members equal to or greater than two-thirds of the total number of votes cast during the previous election, or by fifty percent of Local membership, whichever number is lower. Once triggered, a Nominations Committee shall be established in accordance with Section 1 to hold a forum on the recall, followed by a Local-wide election, where a supermajority of two-thirds of voters shall be required to recall the officer.
Additionally, in the case of malfeasance or nonfeasance, the Steering Committee may call a vote to remove an officer, with a two-thirds majority vote of the Steering Committee required to execute the removal. Local Officers may not vote in the matter of their own recall. The rationale and result of any such vote called must be published to the membership. Malfeasance shall be defined as intentional misuse of Local resources, abuse of Local Officer powers, or deliberate misrepresentation of the positions of the Local.
Additionally, if a Local Officer is found to be in significant violation of the Local’s Misconduct Policy, which shall always be accessible as a part of the Local’s Standing Rules, removal from Local or Local Subgroup office may be considered. Nonfeasance shall be defined as an ongoing or repeated failure to execute Officer duties and maintain regular contact with other Local Officers, without making arrangements to be replaced or voluntarily stepping down from the position, or failure to maintain membership. A local officer who is no longer a member in good standing shall be privately notified and given at least two (2) weeks to renew membership prior to a recall or removal vote.
SECTION 4. VACANCIES
In the event of a vacancy, whether due to recall or resignation, the empty seat shall be filled by the following procedure:
(a) If the vacancy occurs within the first six (6) months of the term, the seat will be filled by a member in good standing according to the results of the previous election, with votes for the recalled officer being transferred according to the regular voting process.
(b) If the vacancy occurs after the first six (6) months of the term, or if there are no candidates that ran during the previous election for the vacant seat, the Local Steering Committee will appoint a replacement member in good standing for the remainder of the term.
ARTICLE VIII: LOCAL OFFICERS
SECTION 1. OFFICERS, ELECTIONS, AND TERMS
The Local shall annually elect a Recording Secretary, Communications Director, Treasurer, Campaigns Coordinator, YDSA Coordinator, and five (5) at-large members of the Steering Committee.
SECTION 2. RECORDING SECRETARY
The Recording Secretary will be responsible for:
a) the taking of minutes of all Steering Committee meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes, and resolutions, reports and other official records of the Local.
b) ensuring that key decisions and meeting minutes are available to members of the Local.
c) maintaining detailed and accurate membership records in coordination with the Membership Committee, as well as Local bylaws and official Local organizational policies.
d) coordinating with Local Subgroups to receive records of key debates and decisions
e) transferring all records to their successor at the end of their term.
SECTION 3. COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
The Communications Director will be responsible for
(a) Coordinating public-facing statements from the Local, including but not limited to the DSA-LA website, social media, and blog.
(b) Coordinating regular internal email newsletters and announcements.
(c) Coordinating a Communications Standing Committee that includes representatives from each Local Subgroup in the Local, to ensure that both external and internal communications accurately represent work done across all of the Local’s groups.
SECTION 4. TREASURER
The Treasurer will be responsible for the funds and financial records of the Local. All funds collected by the Local will be turned over to the Treasurer, who shall deposit them in a bank account under the name of the Local. In cooperation with the Communications Secretary, the Treasurer will be responsible for ensuring that membership dues are paid up-to-date. The Treasurer will prepare the annual Local budget, and deliver the Local financial report to the Annual Convention of the Local, as well as periodic progress reports as requested by the Steering Committee of the Local.
SECTION 5. CAMPAIGNS COORDINATOR
The Campaigns Coordinator shall be responsible for coordinating the activity of committees, branches and working groups, including assisting in the organizational structure, ensuring meetings of the committees operate according to principles of transparency, accessibility, and full participation, and reporting back to the Steering Committee on the progress and operations of committee and the Local’s campaigns, and planning logistics of the Annual Convention. The Campaigns Coordinator will also be responsible for tracking the Local’s coalitions and external relationships.
SECTION 7. YDSA COORDINATOR
The YDSA Coordinator shall be responsible for maintaining a network of coordinators and representatives from YDSA Locals across Los Angeles, as well as extending that network to include nearby regional DSA and YDSA Locals. They shall be responsible for ensuring that YDSA Locals have abundant avenues to work in solidarity with the Local’s work, as well as to request resources and support from the Local for YDSA Local-led campaigns and initiatives.
SECTION 8. AT LARGE OFFICERS
Four At-large officers of the Local serve as members of the Steering Committee and are responsible for ensuring all Steering Committee work is executed in accordance with the Local’s Mission and Organizational Priorities.
SECTION 9. ADDITIONAL DUTIES
The Local Steering Committee may assign additional temporary duties to an officer or member in good standing of the Local, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws.
ARTICLE IX. STEERING COMMITTEE
SECTION 1. COMPOSITION AND PURPOSE
The Steering Committee shall be comprised of the Communication Director, the Treasurer, the Campaigns Coordinator, the Recording Secretary, and the five elected at-large Officers of the Local. The Steering Committee is the highest elected body. It shall administer the affairs and oversee the implementation of the decisions of the DSA-LA membership, ensuring that the Local’s work is done in alignment with the Local Mission and Organizational Priorities and the Local Bylaws. It may propose policies and activities to the membership; receives reports from committees and Branches; advises committees and Branches on policy issues; calls emergency meetings of the membership; and acts on any matter requiring immediate attention by DSA-LA. When relevant, actions of the Steering Committee shall be guided or superseded by resolutions passed or decisions made by the membership, which shall always be the supreme political body of the Local, at member meetings or Local Conventions.
SECTION 2. DUTIES
The Steering Committee’s duties shall include:
(a) Facilitating and planning meetings of the Local at least six times annually, including the Annual Convention, with Branch Coordinators as appropriate, and acting on behalf of the organization between meetings.
(b) Accepting proposals and facilitating votes for updates to the Local Mission Statement, Organizational Priorities, and Bylaws.
(c) Ensuring that the Communications Coordinator, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer have sufficient resources and help to perform their duties, including empowering and overseeing fundraising and communications standing committees.
(d) Evaluating proposals and analyses in accordance with Article VI.
(e) Overseeing Local communication and coordination with other DSA Locals and responsibilities to DSA National
(f) Facilitating coordination between Local Subgroups and ensuring that all projects are executed in keeping with the Local-wide Mission Statement and Organizational Priorities and with decisions made by the membership.
(g) Drafting and executing Local administrative policy in accordance with the Local Organizational Priorities to ensure the smooth working of the Local
(h) Requesting and receiving regular reports from all Local Subgroup Coordinators
(i) Advising Local Subgroups on policy issues and proposing activities to the general membership
(j) Publishing an annual report describing the projects, finances, accomplishments, and setbacks of the previous year and setting forth the plans and goals for the Local in the coming year.
(k) Calling emergency meetings of the membership as needed, in accordance with Article IV, Section 3.
SECTION 3. MEETINGS & DECISIONS
The Steering Committee shall meet at least twice per month. A quorum of at least six members shall be required to make decisions. In all Steering Committee votes, a majority or supermajority, as appropriate, shall be of the voting-eligible Steering body and not counted of voting members.
ARTICLE X. ELECTORAL ENDORSEMENTS
SECTION 1. LOCAL ENDORSEMENTS
The power to endorse a candidate for elected public office or a ballot measure (“Local Endorsements”) will only belong to a majority of members voting at a Chapter Meeting. The Electoral Committee may establish additional requirements to consider Local Endorsements. Any appeal against a decision by the Electoral Committee may be agendized for a Chapter Meeting by a petition of 100 members in good standing and overturned by a ⅔ supermajority vote of the Local.
SECTION 2. ELECTORAL COMMITTEE
The Electoral Committee shall be a five member Standing Committee elected by the Local. The responsibilities of the Electoral Committee shall be:
Advancing the Local’s electoral strategy
Advising and supporting the Steering Committee in maintaining relationships with Local member-electeds.
Facilitating Local Endorsements, including coordinating votes to ensure that the Local is not overburdened
Establishing and coordinating open non-deliberative bodies or subcommittees to expand and implement the chapter’s electoral work and strategy, including supporting any working groups established in support of Local Endorsements
Electoral Committee members may not be employed by campaigns seeking Local Endorsement.
SECTION 3. INITIATING ENDORSEMENT PROCESSES
The power to initiate a Local Endorsement will only belong to 50 members who have signed onto a written proposal to start the endorsement process for the candidate or ballot measure
ARTICLE XI. GRIEVANCES, MISCONDUCT, AND POLICY ENFORCEMENT
The Local shall abide by the DSA-LA Misconduct Policy when responding to allegations of member misconduct. As appropriate, policies and resources from the National organization will be implemented as they become available, in accordance with the DSA-LA Misconduct Policy.
ARTICLE XII. DELEGATES TO NATIONAL, REGIONAL, AND STATE BODIES
Delegates and alternates representing the Local to the National Convention and any other meeting of DSA bodies in which decisions binding on the Local are to be made will be elected by the full membership of the Local.
Delegates shall seek input and guidance, facilitated by the Steering Committee as necessary, from the Local membership body regarding the topics of debate at the convention.
ARTICLE XIII. PROHIBITED ACTIVITY
The Los Angeles Local shall not engage in activity prohibited by IRS guidelines or similar rules established by the State of California. Nor shall the Local engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.
ARTICLE XIV. AMENDMENTS
Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by 25 members of Local members, and submitted to the Steering Committee at least one (1) months in advance of a Local Meeting or the Annual Convention. The Steering Committee will make these proposed amendments available for members to review at least two (2) months in advance of the Local Meeting or Annual Convention and provide time on the Local Meeting or Annual Convention agenda to discuss and vote on them. If any proposed amendment receives a two-thirds supermajority of votes, the Steering Committee will update the bylaws accordingly.
ARTICLE XV. RULES OF THE LOCAL
SECTION 1. RULES
Meetings shall be conducted in such a manner as to encourage member participation and deliberation. Contributions and perspectives from members of historically marginalized groups shall be represented and actively encouraged throughout.
The Rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall be used for meetings where amendments to these Bylaws are to be considered.
SECTION 2. ACTION OUT OF ORDER
Any action taken by an officer or member of the Local in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.
Appendix B. Co-Chairs Amendment
ARTICLE VIII: LOCAL OFFICERS
SECTION 1. OFFICERS, ELECTIONS, AND TERMS
The Local shall annually elect two Co-Chairs, a Recording Secretary, Communications Director, Treasurer, YDSA Coordinator, and four (4) at-large members of the Steering Committee.
SECTION 2. CO-CHAIRS
There shall be two Co-Chairs, Co-Chair 1 and Co-Chair 2 who:
a) Report to meetings of the Local on the business of the Steering Committee.
b) Shall prepare agendas for and preside over membership and Steering Committee meetings.
c) Shall assume the powers and duties of the presiding officers as specified in Robert’s Rules of Order.
d) Shall be the public spokespersons for the Local and the Steering Committee.
e) Shall initiate such actions and policies as the membership may demand.
f) The Co-Chairs shall be directly elected according to the procedures defined in these Bylaws. Co-Chairs shall serve one-year terms.
g) Shall be equal with the rest of the Steering Committee and not considered the executives of the Steering Committee.
g) In the event of a vacancy in any seat on the Steering Committee, the Chairs may appoint an interim until the the vacancy can be filled according to Article
The DSA-LA Steering Committee is often overburdened with responsibilities that keep it from running effectively. The other DSA Chapters that we studied all had adopted some form of leadership co-chairs to solve the same problem of overburdened Chapter leadership and reported the change as having been effective. As the membership of DSA-LA continues to grow this poses and exacerbates two issues:
It is unclear to members who they should direct their questions of concerns to and from whom they can directly expect accountability from to have them answered or addressed.
There is no recognized body within DSA-LA for making public or otherwise out facing statements on behalf of the Chapter and resulting in time having to be redirected by Steering on deciding upon what to say and who will say it.
ORGANIZATIONAL PRIORITIES THAT SUPPORT THIS AMENDMENT PROPOSAL
Provide clarity within and outside of DSA with official point of contact.
Maintain transparent decision-making processes which allows all members to engage with Steering decisions, avoiding processes which are opaque to Membership.
Reduce the strain on Steering Committee members and balance workflows.
Bylaws Amendment 5: The New Council of Organized Powers Bylaw Amendment
The “New York City” Bylaw Amendment
NOTE: This proposal is an entire replacement of the current DSA-LA Bylaws.
Main Contacts: Symone B., Ariadne L., Andy P., Rich R.
DSA Los Angeles has a responsibility to take a look at its own bylaws and the oppressive tendencies that it upholds. In the same way that we cannot simply reform oppressive institutions in our society, we must fully dismantle and abolish our bylaws as its articles collectively uphold white supremacy, systemic racism, and cisheteropatriarchy in our own chapter.
The New Council of Organized Powers Bylaw Amendment will be a starting point to an ongoing critique of our practices; this will be instrumental to building a multi-racial working class base and securing a socialist future. Our chapter must start on good soil if it ever wants to grow into an anti-oppressive body. Our bylaws are not revolutionary – instead, they are replicative of White supremacist and corporate structures in our society, and counterproductive to everything we believe in as an organization. They are not socialist.
After an audit of New York City, East Bay, Chicago, Seattle and Portland DSA’s bylaws, and recognizing them to be vastly more progressive and anti-oppressive, it’s clear that we have a lot of work to do. This is just the beginning of an ongoing commitment to dismantle systems of oppression, as they manifest in new and interesting ways. This effort will keep our organization aligned with its current mission statement and organizational priorities.
The New Council of Organized Powers Bylaw Amendment – a full replacement of our DSA Los Angeles bylaws inspired by New York City DSA and other chapters listed above, but also improving upon them in revolutionary ways. In-line edits are not applicable, but the bylaws below are complete and fully functional.
Article I. Name and Purpose
The name of this organization shall be the Democratic Socialists of America Los Angeles (hereafter referred to as “the Local”). Its jurisdiction shall be identified as that of Los Angeles County, and every meeting of the Local shall begin with an acknowledgement of indigenous land. Any jurisdiction to be added to the Local may be conferred by National DSA. Its purposes shall be consistent with those of National DSA and with the larger goal of dismantling capitalism and its aspects: white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, and systemic oppression of all sorts.
Article II. Membership
Section 1: Definition. The Membership of DSA Los Angeles shall be composed of all DSA members residing within the jurisdiction of the Local. DSA Members shall be defined to include all people who have paid dues to the National organization within the last two years or who have paid lifetime dues. Members in good standing (hereafter referred to as Members) will include all DSA members who have paid dues within the last year or who have paid lifetime dues. All Local Members shall have full and equal rights of membership.
Section 2: Dues. The Members shall have the authority to decide to raise annual dues for the Local. Dues shall be specified in the Bylaws, and require a majority vote of those at the Local Convention to be changed or adopted.
Section 3: Dismantling White Supremacy. New membership and leadership onboarding shall consist of trainings on dismantling white supremacy and mitigating oppressive behaviors including homophobia, transphobia, racism (e.g. anti-Blackness, anti-Asian, anti-Latinx, anti-Native, Islamophobia), and sexism. Any Local Subgroup of the CO-OP (see Article IV) may request resources for a specific anti-oppression training democratically decided by the members of that Local Subgroup. A quorum vote of the CO-OP will be required to implement a new training.
Section 4: Anti-Oppressive Organizing. New and existing member participation will be encouraged through identifying roles in a social change ecosystem. Per our mission statement: Los Angeles has been developed by capitalist structures along deep regional, racial, and class stratifications that offer significant unique challenges to building strong Left unity, and it must be our goal to challenge and transcend these divisions. Rebuilding and manifesting a strong socialist presence and power in Los Angeles and beyond will require looking at the Left as a complex ecosystem, and defining our role within it accordingly. DSA-LA aims to be an influential participant of that ecosystem by acting as a true resource and defining our power in service, not in governance or authority over other organizations in the Left in Los Angeles.
Additional anti-oppressive organizing resources regarding meeting facilitation and democratic process will be identified on a continual basis by the Local Subgroups in collaboration and at the direction of the CO-OP.
Article III. Basic Organization and Conventions
Section 1: General Membership. Conventions and Special Meetings of the Local, at which the General Membership shall be represented by elected delegates, shall be the highest body of the organization. This provides that Special Meetings shall have the authority to deal with only those matters for which they may be called. Between Conventions and Special Meetings, the Council of Organized Powers shall be responsible for the administration of the organization and the implementation of policies formulated by the General Membership and the Local Subgroups of the Council of Organized Powers.
Section 2: Local Subgroups. A group of Members organized around a common cause may form qualified Local Subgroups, which can constitute the following:
- Geographic Branches
- Non-geographic Branches
- Identity-based and Ideologically-based Caucuses
- Issue-based Committees
- Working Groups
- Other formations of Members recognized by the Membership or the CO-OP.
Each Local Subgroup may have its own set of Bylaws that do not conflict with this Constitution. Each new formation must petition CO-OP to be recognized as a Local Subgroup. Existing Local Subgroups must create bylaws if they do not already exist.
All Local Subgroups of CO-OP shall elect their officers within 30 days of the first CO-OP convening of the fiscal year (Article X Section 4).
Section 3: Conventions. The Local shall meet in Convention annually during the last six months of the year unless the Council of Organized Powers approves a later date. The Convention shall meet to elect officers and to debate and decide primarily, but not exclusively, Local issues, the political orientation of the organization, and program direction. The Convention date and all associated deadlines must be announced to the general membership at least 3 months before the date of the Convention. A process for proposal submission, proposal amendments, proposal reconciliation, and delegate election must be included in the Convention announcement.
Section 4: Special Meetings. Either five percent of total Local members or a majority vote of CO-OP can call a Special Meeting, with notice given to all members at least fourteen days prior to the meeting. The call to the Special Meeting shall specify the matters to be discussed therein and no other matter may be brought to the floor.
Section 5: Voting. Every Member of the Local shall have the right to vote for and run to be a delegate to National Conventions. Members may vote to call Special Meetings of the Local. Members may run for officer positions in any of the Local Subgroups of which they are eligible according to the Subgroup bylaws. Members who are also organized with Young Democratic Socialists of America chapters within the jurisdiction of DSA-LA have all of the above rights. Every Member of the Local shall also have the right to vote in branch-based decisions and all decisions related to citywide electoral endorsements. These elections will be known collectively as Citywide Internal Votes.
- Electronic ballots must be made available to all Members for all Citywide Internal Votes. Coordination of these votes will be the responsibility of the DSA-LA Administrative Standing Officers, who can also delegate responsibilities to members of the CO-OP, and/or to a group voted on by a majority of the CO-OP.
- Each Member must register their voting membership with one primary Branch, whether it is a geographic branch, shared interest branch, or institutional branch with the email address associated with their National DSA membership. Registration will be made available as part of each online ballot and will not require any additional steps.
- The Member’s primary Branch will be the one Branch in which a member will vote for citywide convention and national convention delegates. Members whose primary Branch is geographic will also vote in this branch for the purposes of Citywide Electoral Endorsements.
- Members whose primary Branch is shared interest or institutional can register for a secondary Geographic branch, which will be the branch in which they vote for Citywide Electoral Endorsements. No additional requirements will be made to register with any branch for the purposes of Citywide Internal Votes.
- Members may transfer their voting registration from one primary branch to another primary branch at any time, provided that they have not voted in the Citywide Internal Vote in another branch within the previous 30 days.
- Each Branch shall elect a diverse body of delegates in terms of racial and ethnic identity, gender and sexual identity, age, and class.
- Elected delegates must be members in good standing at the time of the Convention.
- Members shall have the ability to renew DSA dues at the start of the Convention.
Section 6: Rules. All resolutions and officer reports presented to the Local’s membership at the Convention will allow for a question and answer period to be followed by speakers wishing to voice their opinions. Number of speakers and speaking time will be limited to fit within the Convention’s time constraints. Otherwise, all rules covering the conduct of a Convention or Special Meeting shall be set by the CO-OP or a committee it appoints for that purpose, and shall be subject to modification and approval by the membership at the meeting.
Section 7: Quorum for Convention. The presence of five percent of total Local members shall be required for the start of valid Convention.
Section 8: Quorum for Special Meetings. A quorum of sixty percent (60%) of elected CO-OP officers shall be required for the start of valid Special Meetings.
Article IV. Council of Organized Powers
Council of Organized Powers: In between Local Conventions and Special Meetings, The Council of Organized Powers shall be the highest governing body of the Local. The Council of Organized Powers, hereafter referred to as the CO-OP, shall be composed of the Elected Leadership of all Branches, Caucuses, Committees, Working Groups, and all qualified Local Subgroups not enumerated — hereafter referred to as Local Subgroups.
Section 1: Constituent Groups of the CO-OP. Branches, Caucuses, Committees, Working Groups, and other qualified Local Subgroups are the constituent groups of CO-OP. Elected Leadership for Branches or Local Subgroups, or Subgroup Members elected for the purpose of participating in CO-OP, are voting members of CO-OP.
Section 2: If a Local Subgroup has more than two Elected Leadership positions, only two of those leaders may represent a local subgroup in the CO-OP at any given CO-OP meeting.
Section 3: Individual Members are not prohibited from participating or holding Elected Leadership in more than one Local Subgroup, but a member may only represent a maximum of two (2) Local Subgroups in matters voted on by CO-OP.
Section 4: A Local Subgroup can have a maximum of two voting members at any given meeting of CO-OP.
Section 5: Local Subgroups shall select which members of their leadership may attend CO-OP meetings in order to represent the Local Subgroup, according to the bylaws of the Local Subgroup.
Section 6: CO-OP shall meet at least once per month. The Council Of Organized Powers can additionally be convened at any time with a 50%+1 quorum of CO-OP members. The Council of Organized Powers shall meet to share their meeting notes, discuss their individual projects and current priorities, organize fundraising and membership, and request material resources or access to social media channels.
Section 7: A quorum of 10 members, or 33% of all selected CO-OP members whichever is greater, is required for CO-OP to conduct binding votes. A CO-OP meeting which does not achieve quorum shall be considered an “Interim Meeting” and may schedule business for the next CO-OP meeting.
Section 8: Any Member of the Local may attend a CO-OP meeting if they notify the Recording Secretary three days prior to a scheduled CO-OP meeting. Members not attending as voting members may not vote on any matters brought up during a CO-OP meeting.
Article V. Administrative Standing Officers
Section 1: Definition. In order to fulfill specific administrative roles within the Local that require dedicated attention, the Local shall elect specific Administrative Standing Officers, hereafter referred to as ASOs, for the following roles:
- a) The Treasurer, the Recording Secretary, the Membership Director, and the YDSA Coordinator.
- b) ASOs are considered voting members of the Local but cannot represent a subgroup as voting members of the CO-OP.
Section 2: Roles. The ASOs are administrative officers that, along with Branches, share responsibility for planning and facilitating Chapter-wide Local Meetings at least six times a year with fourteen days notice given to CO-OP and at-large Membership. Individual ASO roles are as follows:
- a) The Treasurer shall be responsible for the acquisition, stewardship, and dispensation of money and material goods for the Local. The Treasurer shall have custody of all funds of the organization and shall be responsible for the financial management of the organization. They shall be responsible for authorizing all expenditures in accordance with the wishes of the CO-OP (in the case of expenditures over $500, prior approval must be sought from the CO-OP), and shall organize fundraising and dues collection, should the Local decide to collect dues. They shall also be responsible for compliance with any financial regulations the Local is subject to.
- b) The Recording Secretary shall be responsible for taking minutes of all CO-OP meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes and resolutions, reports, and other official records of the Local. The Recording Secretary shall be responsible for maintaining accurate membership lists, and for keeping minutes and records of all Conventions and Special Meetings of the Local. They shall also be responsible for informing the CO-OP and the membership of all Conventions and Special Meetings.
- c) The Membership Director shall be responsible for matters dealing with the recruitment, development, and mobilization of the Local’s membership. This includes the keeping of a database of members, conducting surveys, driving diversity efforts, as well as any tasks assigned to the role by the CO-OP.
- d) The Communications Coordinators (2) shall be responsible for directing communication efforts to strategize, agitate, and organize on behalf of the chapter and its Local Subgroups. They will coordinate and oversee all Local-wide communication and media activities in Los Angeles at the direction of the CO-OP.
- e) The YDSA Coordinator shall be responsible for maintaining a network of representatives from YDSA Locals across Los Angeles. They shall be responsible for ensuring that YDSA Locals have abundant avenues to work in solidarity with the Local’s work, as well as to request resources and support from the Local for YDSA Local-led campaigns and initiatives.
Section 3: Administrative Subcommittees. The ASO may create and direct an Administrative Subcommittee under jurisdiction of CO-OP that has power to make any necessary decisions related to the above roles and their corresponding responsibilities. To aid in their individual work, individual ASOs may establish other subcommittees, overseen by the relevant Officer and responsible through them to the CO-OP. These subcommittees shall not be considered Local Subgroups.
Section 4: Annual Report. The Administrative Standing Officers, working with CO-OP, must publish or deliver an annual report describing the accomplishments of the previous year.
Section 5: Diversity. At least two ASO of the Local must be women or non-binary, and at least two ASO of the Local must be people of color.
Section 6: Vacancies. Any ASO who misses two consecutive CO-OP meetings without an acceptable reason shall have their position declared vacant. In the event that there is a vacancy in an ASO position, the CO-OP shall have the power to fill the vacancy by majority vote.
Section 7: Removal. Any ASO may be removed for gross incompetence or malfeasance. A three-quarters majority vote of the Council of Organized Powers is required to remove a member of the ASO.
Section 8: Eligibility. While Los Angeles or California state elected representatives are welcome to be members of DSA-LA, they are not eligible to be an ASO.
Article VI. Harassment Grievance Officers
Section 1: In accordance with Resolution 33 of the 2017 National DSA Convention, the Local shall have at least 5 Harassment Grievance Officers, known hereafter as HGOs. This section incorporates the provisions not herein enumerated in Resolution 33 in their entirety, where not in conflict with this Constitution.
Section 2: No conflict of interest. HGOs may not serve on CO-OP, ASO or as elected leaders of Local Subgroups.
Section 3: HGOs are appointed by ASO following an open call for volunteers to all Members. A level of professional conflict mediation, de-escalation, and other relevant training shall be made available for HGOs by ASO and CO-OP.
Section 4: Responsibilities. The HGO(s) shall:
- Ensure that Members at all levels abide by the Local Misconduct Policy.
- Receive, acknowledge receipt of, and archive grievances;
- Contact the accused to notify them of the grievances, request their written response, and archive any written response;
- Conduct any necessary investigation of the claim; and
- Present their findings to the CO-OP and ASO with a written report and, if necessary, a recommendation for disciplinary action.
- If necessary, HGO(s) may recommend that parties do not contact each other for the duration of the investigative process.
- Compile a yearly report that details:
- How many reports were made
- How many were taken to the disciplinary process
- How many disciplinary actions were taken
- Any recommended changes for making the reporting system more effective
- This report will not include personally identifying information of any parties in any dispute. The local HGO(s) will send the yearly report to the national HGO(s) no later than January 1 of the new year.
Section 5: Third party mediation. HGOs may enlist the services of third parties to assist in unbiased pursuance of the above responsibilities. ASO may make resources available for this purpose and must consult CO-OP for final approval. If financial resources are expended to consult a third party, the third party’s recommendation should be considered binding.
Section 6: Commitment to restorative justice. Restorative justice will be prioritized whenever feasible to resolve conflicts of Local members.
Section 7: Suspension or expulsion. Members can be suspended or expelled under the following conditions:
- if they are found to have harassed or acted violently against another member;
- if they are found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization;
- if they consistently engage in undemocratic, disruptive behavior;
- or if they are under the discipline of any self-defined democratic-centralist organization,
- and/or if a grievance is sustained against them through any grievance procedure established by the Local HGOs.
Section 8: Procedure for suspension/expulsion.
- Members facing suspension or expulsion must receive written notice of grievance against them at least fifteen days before a meeting convened to consider the suspension or expulsion by the HGOs.
- The member must be given the opportunity to be heard before the ASO meeting.
- A majority vote by HGOs is required to suspend or expel a member in absence of an explicit recommendation to do so from a third party.
- Only the National organization shall have the power to suspend or expel a member from the National organization.
- Decisions on suspension or expulsion may be appealed at the Local Convention or by Special Meeting.
- Any member may be temporarily suspended from membership or removed from officer positions in the Local, including branch, working group, and/or other official local group leadership offices, pending a grievance procedure or other investigation, without advance notice, by two HGOs where good cause exists for such temporary suspension or removal.
Article VII. Branches
Section 1: Definition. The Local may subdivide its geographic jurisdiction into Branches for the purpose of creating smaller membership bodies that meet regularly. The purpose of a Branch will be to carry out the Local’s campaigns and to debate and discuss the organization’s political strategy. Any group of eight or more Local Members of DSA-LA may present the establishment of a Branch.
Section 2: Types of Branch. A Branch can define itself by geography, shared interest, or membership in an institution. A group of members seeking to establish itself as a Branch must apply to CO-OP in writing, including the names of its members, a description of purposes, functions, and membership criteria and other information deemed necessary by the CO-OP. A majority vote of the CO-OP, or majority vote of Members at a qualified Chapter-Wide Meeting will be required to establish a Branch.
Section 3: Responsibilities. Each Branch shall maintain an official membership list. The Membership Coordinator will, from time to time, review the status of Branches to ensure that they are in minimum compliance with the Constitution. Each Branch shall also hold at least 8 meetings per year related to their self-determined business or goals.
Section 4: Representatives. Every Branch shall elect one or two of its members to a seat on the Council of Organized Powers. Every Local Member may vote in only one Branch election for CO-OP representative. Representatives from Branches will be elected no later than one month after the Local Convention. They will serve for approximately one year. Branches shall have the right to recall their representative and replace them, and will also be responsible for replacing their representative should they no longer be able to serve on the CO-OP.
Section 5: Revoking status. A Branch may have its status revoked by a majority plus one vote of the CO-OP following a hearing open to all Local members.
Article VIII. Electoral Endorsements
Section 1: Branch Recommendations. Local candidates running in districts wholly contained within one geographic Branch of the Local must be first recommended by the branch. In order for the recommendation to be valid, the endorsement must be recommended by fifty-one percent of members voting. Quorum shall be a number of members equal to the average attendance of the last 4 Branch meetings. Candidates running in districts that overlap more than one Branch must be first recommended by at least half of the geographic Branches in that district. Notice must be sent to members of each relevant Branch at least a week in advance that an endorsement will be considered at a branch meeting. No online vote may commence until the endorsement has been discussed at the branch meeting. Branches are encouraged to hold an in-person vote at the meeting as long as they communicate who voted and the results to those administering the election. Once a sufficient number of Branches recommends an endorsement, it goes to an Endorsement Meeting of the Local or to the Council of Organized Powers, as outlined in Sections 2 and 3. If an endorsement is that of a statewide or presidential candidacy, the decision to endorse must go to a chapter-wide vote and pass with fifty-one percent majority of members voting. Quorum shall be ten percent of the chapter membership.
Section 2: Endorsement Meetings. Ballot measures and candidates for office may only be cosponsored by the Local as a whole at specified Endorsement Meetings, which shall include each annual convention. A sixty percent majority of the delegates attending an Endorsement Meeting will be required to endorse any candidate or ballot measure. The delegates shall be elected by the various Branches, in proportion to each Branch’s number of members.
Section 3: Council of Organized Powers Special Circumstances. The Council of Organized Powers may endorse candidates and ballot measures in exceptional situations where time constraints forbid holding an Endorsement Meeting. A sixty percent majority is required to make an endorsement. The CO-OP must vote on a Branch’s recommendation within four weeks of the Branch recommendation vote.
Section 4: Bylaws. Bylaws may be enacted to impose further requirements on electoral endorsements, including but not limited to electoral working group recommendations prior to an electoral endorsement, quorum and other requirements for branch endorsements.
Article IX: General Provisions
Section 1: Interpretation. This Constitution shall be interpreted by the ASO and CO-OP, subject only to appeal to the Local Convention or a Special Meeting. The interpretation of the Local Convention or Special Meeting shall be final.
Section 2: Rules. Unless otherwise voted upon by a meeting, Rusty’s Rules shall govern the conduct of all Conventions and Special Meetings. The CO-OP must conduct a quarterly training on Rusty’s Rules to the general membership.
Section 3: Notifications. All requirements for giving notice to the Membership can be met by both sending emails and posting to social media under the jurisdiction of CO-OP and ASO.
Article X: Amendments to this Constitution
Section 1: Amendments. This Constitution may be amended by a sixty percent majority of those present at the Local Convention or Special Meeting called for that purpose, provided that notice of such amendments must be given no less than fifteen days prior for Special Meetings.
Section 2: Reconciliation Committee. Subsequent to a Convention or a Special Meeting at which multiple constitutional amendments are enacted, the CO-OP may appoint a Reconciliation Committee if necessary to reconcile those amendments. This Reconciliation Committee does not have voting powers in CO-OP.
The Reconciliation Committee may not make substantive changes to the amendments or to this Constitution except as necessary to implement the intended constitutional changes made by the Convention or the Special Meeting.
The Reconciliation will be dissolved once their given task is complete. The changes proposed by a Reconciliation Committee must be approved by a three-quarters vote of the CO-OP members in attendance to take effect.
Section 3: Resolutions. Chapter-wide Resolutions may be presented at Convention and may be established by a majority of those present at the Local Convention. Up to five resolutions may be passed.
Section 4: Fiscal Year. The Fiscal Year of DSA-LA shall be from January 1st to December 31st. Amendments to this Constitution shall take effect within one (1) month of their approval by the Membership.
Article XI: Identity Caucuses and Committees
Section 1: Cementing Marginalized Tendencies. DSA Los Angeles shall center and promote BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and Socialist Feminist tendencies in all it’s work. The CO-OP shall encourage members of marginalized groups to organize and dedicate resources to promote their work.
Section 2: Equitable Opportunity. Marginalized groups may organize based on identity and political tendency. Chapter resources will be shared equitably without distinction between identity committees and caucuses.
Section 3: Formation. To form an identity caucus or committee, any group of eight or more members, in good standing, may be recognized by the CO-OP as a body. A group of members seeking to establish itself as an identity caucus or committee must apply to the CO-OP in writing, including the names of its members; a description of purposes, functions, and membership criteria; and other information deemed necessary by the CO-OP. A majority vote of the CO-OP will be required to establish an identity caucus or committee. If an identity caucus or committee is nationally recognized, CO-OP will be required to recognize the body locally. If CO-OP disapproves, the body may present their case to the broader chapter at a Local Convention or Special Meeting, and will require a simple majority vote.
Chapter Resolution 1: Build a Bench for a 2022 DSA-LA Slate
Authors: E. OR.; J. SL.; K.G.; N.M.; T.L.
Historically, DSA-LA has taken a reactive approach to electoral politics, evaluating and endorsing candidates when they approach us. Looking ahead to 2022, DSA-LA should take a proactive approach to developing and recruiting DSA-LA members to run as candidates for local office. In short, we want candidates who have a history of organizing with DSA-LA: candidates committed to class struggle, anti-racism, and ending systemic oppression of BIPOC, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, women, and the unhoused. By developing the chapter’s electoral skills, we can build power through endorsing and developing winning candidates, and by developing member campaign skills to likewise grow capable organizers able to staff a socialist candidate’s office, to truly bring socialist policy to the halls of power. We propose a chapter-wide resolution to develop candidates and campaign infrastructure for the purpose of developing a DSA-LA slate for the 2022 primary and general election.
Barring extreme and unpredictable changes, the 2022 elections in Los Angeles will be historically meaningful, regardless of the results of the 2020 federal elections. It’ll be a key opportunity for the Left to strengthen its presence in elected office across the country. In Los Angeles, it’ll be the first time in decades that eight City Council seats, along with the Mayorship, will be up for election in the same year as midterms. The corresponding scramble, combined with the clear shift to the left among Los Angeles’ constituents as represented by Bernie Sanders’ comprehensive victory in the 2020 Presidential Primary, means that this cycle will offer a historic opportunity to elect socialist candidates – if we prepare accordingly.
We want to win City Council seats and beyond with a long-term structural strategy of winning State Assembly, State Senate, and Municipal Elections, getting DSA-LA members on the staff of those offices and by association, begin building DSA strength in California government offices and create paths through institutional structures towards federal offices.
Though DSA’s highest profile wins have been congressional wins, from AOC to Rashida Tlaib, congressional races are extremely difficult to win, especially for candidates who have not held lower office first. Rashida Tlaib was a six-year Michigan State Assembly member before she was a congresswoman, and Ilhan Omar held state office for two years before being elected to Congress. Currently, 42 DSA members hold municipal office in cities across the country, 19 DSA members hold state office across the US and one comrade (in Maryland) holds a county position. We seek to replicate the framework for these successes by identifying and developing a new generation of socialist leaders to steadily build a deep bench of socialists candidates and office holders across LA County, with the long term goal of these leaders winning higher offices. In short, this resolution seeks to 1) map, analyze, and prioritize electoral offices across the county, 2) prioritize developing the chapter’s electoral capabilities as well as DSA-LA member candidates 3) run a slate of DSA-LA members in the 2022 election cycle.
Unfortunately, winning elections in California is much harder than it is in most other states, due to both chamber size and primary laws. Recent primary-winning DSA candidate for Minnesota State Senate, Omar Fateh, won just over 10,000 votes in order to represent a district with a population of approximately 42,000. AOC’s huge primary victory in 2018, though representing 700,000 people, required just under 16,000 votes (57%), due to New York’s primary systems. By contrast, DSA-LA endorsed candidate Fatima Iqbal-Zubair won over 18,000 votes in her primary election, but only 32% of total votes, and the district in question holds over 230,000 registered voters – and that district is below average for a California State Assembly seat.
None of this means that winning elections is out of reach for DSA-LA. But it does mean that winning these elections requires careful strategization and concentrated effort. DSA-LA’s electoral efforts should be clearly tied to and supporting our non-electoral organizing, and the chapter should be planning to maximize our influence on these elections well before the cycle starts.
Many know that Rashida Tlaib got elected to the federal House of Representatives in 2018, but don’t know that ten years earlier she got elected to the Michigan House Assembly in 2008. In that decade, she won three re-elections and stayed representative even through redistricting. Ilhan Omar ran for and won a state representative seat in 2016 before advancing to Congress in 2018. Winning one office opens the potential to run for a more powerful one. This dynamic is true in Los Angeles as well: the California Democratic Party’s power is deeply entrenched in the lives of Angelenos and residents across the state. In order to meet this opposition, we need to win government seats at all levels. City Councillors and Congressional representatives nearly always have a significant amount of experience in elected office or as staff for elected officials before they win their seats. Ignoring the institutional pathways to these offices keeps the flow of establishment candidates and staffers uninterrupted and unchallenged. We must proactively develop candidates for lower office if we are to win power at higher levels.
We will identify and support candidates who:
- See mobilizing and fighting alongside working people as one of their primary responsibilities, both through their election campaigns and once they’re in office.
- Explicitly oppose systemic racial, gender, sexual, ethnic, and religious oppression and vow to fight with actively anti-oppressive tactics instead of passively condemning systemic oppression.
- Name and shame the billionaires hoarding the wealth; candidates who will motion anti-racist policy that redistributes wealth and ends systemic discrimination
- Commit to using their campaigns and elected offices to build power and unite communities, unions, teachers, neighbors across LA County.
- Refuse the notion that we must rely on markets and profit to determine how society’s resources are distributed
We will prioritize identifying and developing candidates within our own membership. As part of this strategy we will also work with unions, community groups, allies, and other coalition partners to identify organizers outside of DSA-LA who we can recruit into our chapter and run as candidates. The end goal of these actions is to collaborate with other Los Angeles coalition partners to run a slate of DSA-LA developed candidates to seize local offices on a large scale and begin controlling the pathway to larger regional and national offices.
Be It Resolved, that the chapter ratify this candidate development plan for 2021, leading into the 2022 election cycle.
DSA-LA will implement a two-year electoral plan to research and identify races where they can make meaningful impacts on the electoral structure of Los Angeles County, and to identify and develop organizers to become electoral candidates in 2022 and beyond.
Resolved, the Electoral Committee will conduct research and circulate reports in the first quarter of 2021 focused on assessing the 2022 races in Los Angeles County to identify opportunities, state, municipal governments within the local’s boundaries and will report on the Neighborhood Councils, Business Industrial Districts, Judicial Councils and Commissions that play into the various governments within Los Angeles County.
Resolved, DSA-LA will construct a comprehensive “Democratic Socialist Program for Los Angeles”, outlining key campaign and policy demands for non-federal elected bodies.
Resolved, the DSA-LA program will be tied to ongoing non-electoral DSA-LA organizing and demands, and will be further popularized as a standard against which the chapter and its members should measure candidates for office in the 2022 elections.
Resolved, DSA-LA will host initiatives, meetings, and forums to ensure that all DSA-LA members are aware and educated about the powers of their local elected officials and how they measure up against the chapter’s program.
Resolved, the Electoral Committee will target 2021 Neighborhood Council races in order to provide motivated electoral organizers in the chapter with the opportunity to participate in these neighborhood-level races and develop experience running socialist electoral campaigns as well as test the soft power potential of building coalitions across the Neighborhood Council system.
Resolved, DSA-LA will democratically decide which races to organize around for the 2022 election with recommendations from the Electoral Committee as to which races offer the most strategic potential for engagement.
Resolved, the Electoral Committee will engage members across the chapter in a collective effort to deeply understand the power structures within Los Angeles politics. It will do this by creating an internal database that clearly outlines the Los Angeles political landscape, and by facilitating trainings on leadership development and meaningful civic engagement
Resolved, DSA-LA shall launch a 2022 candidate slate that focuses member energy on DSA developed and backed electoral candidates running on demands of the working people of Los Angeles that seek to build socialist power and policies.
Chapter Resolution 3: In Response to Crisis: A Proposal For A Neighborhood Solidarity Program by DSA-LA
Proposed by: Arielle S., Courtney Q., Janet H., Kati S., Kellen D, Peter P., Willie W.
The severity of this moment cannot be overstated. Two months after the initial stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, mass uprisings (catalyzed by the horrific murder of George Floyd) grew into a militant rebellion for Black lives and Black liberation. The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated the predictable economic downturn of capitalism and the suffering of the working class — to say nothing of the 150 thousand deaths nationally and 10 thousand state-wide (a death toll that is disproportionately poor, Black, and Brown). At their peak, a record 51 million people were unemployed and in LA, the unemployment rate is nearly 20% — a level that approximates unemployment during the Great Depression, with no tangible signs of improvement on the horizon. In a country where 8 out of 10 people live paycheck to paycheck – nearly 40% of low-wage workers lost their jobs in March. Poor workers—disproportionately Black, Latino and young—have borne the heaviest losses, while entering the pandemic without savings, with heavy rent and debt burdens. Heaping more fuel on the fire, as many as 120,000 renter households in Los Angeles County are facing a wave of evictions in the very near term with a national total approaching 30 million individuals. In July, ⅓ of US households missed their housing payment with estimates expecting that number to continue into August. Public sector layoffs and austerity measures (already in place in some geographies) should be expected to accelerate, threatening more jobs and an already insufficient social safety net.
Responses at all levels of government to the health and economic crises have been characterized by inadequacy and disregard for working people. While initial government relief (one-time stimulus and time-limited increases in UI payments) was credited for keeping many families afloat, it excluded about 15 million people in immigrant families and expired without a replacement at the end of July. Mass evictions are expected in coming weeks and months and instead of extending relief for renters, government has extended landlords a lifeline in the one-time federal stipend and, locally, a bizarre housing voucher through lottery. At the same time, we’ve seen the state has swiftly and decisively greeted uprisings against racist police killings with harsh violence, repression, and recrimination (a response that continues unabated despite ample documentation).
As organized socialists, it’s our responsibility to work to build a powerful working class movement in the midst of crisis and loss of state legitimacy as the contradictions of capitalism are laid bare. We must acknowledge that as socialists we do, in fact, have a role to play in the current and upcoming waves of mass protest and rebellion. By organizing and building neighborhood-based solidarity, we can strengthen and grow our organization, wage a coherent, militant fight for economic relief — and through the struggle for necessities, undermine the conditions of capitalism’s possibility. Adopting this resolution will give DSA-LA a roadmap for rationalizing existing Chapter structures to strengthen our organization, organize the unorganized, and strategically engage (amidst the convergence of multiple crises) in what may be the most politically decisive moment of our time.
Component 1: Description of the Chapter Resolution, including a timeline, considerations of how this work will be organized, and Local resources required. Local resources include, but are not limited to: chapter’s monetary resources, members’ monetary resources, member mobilization and time, political capital, and production of materials.
- Amidst ongoing health and economic crisis, the necessary open rebellion in service of Black lives has exacerbated & heightened the contradictions of capitalism and broadly eroded the legitimacy of the state among the poor, unemployed, underemployed, and precariously employed;
- Hyper-local and geography-specific organizing work has the potential to build a united, multi-racial working class during this economic crisis—by both supporting members’ material needs on a hyper-local basis and simultaneously advancing ambitious, coordinated political demands for relief across LA County and beyond;
- Our organization has dedicated time and energy to support more geography-focused organizing in the form of branches and neighborhood-based organizing;
- Chapter-wide struggles and decision-making have yet to be strongly articulated at the branch and neighborhood-level in a way that builds members’ knowledge of and ownership of our movement.
Be it resolved that the chapter leadership of DSA-LA:
- Expands Neighborhood-focused Organizing: DSA-LA will organize all current and future Neighborhood Organizers under the direction and oversight of the Branch Coordinators.
- Neighborhood Captains lead Neighborhood Groups (which will form subgroups of each Branch). Neighborhood Captains support Neighborhood Organizers in their 1-on-1 organizing with their dedicated contact lists. Branch Coordinators are ultimately responsible for appointing Captains and making sure Captains and Organizers are supported with resources and training across the Branch.
- Boundaries of each Group will be determined by the Branch Coordinators with consultation with members at Branch meetings, and implemented in cooperation with Neighborhood Captains. Branch Coordinators may undertake these responsibilities with the support of Branch Organizing Committees.
- Neighborhood Groups will meet regularly in order to implement DSA-LA’s Neighborhood Solidarity Program, along with other chapter priority campaigns.
- Ensures Committees develop resources for Neighborhood Organizers: DSA-LA will intentionally build the knowledge and political development of all Neighborhood Organizers by supplying them with trainings and toolkits developed by key DSA-LA Committees (Housing & Homelessness, Mutual Aid, and Political Education). These trainings and toolkits will support organizers with the resources and skills to engage all members in our struggle in tangible ways that match the crisis and build solidarity with the unorganized by:
- Addressing the immediate needs of Neighborhood Group members through mutual aid, e.g. shared child watch, accessing government benefits, food aid, maintaining power-up and hand-washing stations in coordination with StreetWatch, in-kind resources and skills sharing;
- Engaging in regular political agitation and consciousness-raising, with the explicit purpose to build solidarity and a socialist understanding of shared class struggle as related to our current crisis;
- Organizing neighbors at the building level and into these neighborhood spaces, with the ultimate goal of recruiting them into DSA;
- Identifying opportunities for direct action, solidarity across campaigns, or other proposals that emerge, to be brought to regular Branch meetings to coordinate and vote on matters of strategy, demands, and tactics – with support from Issue-based Committees;
- Implementing campaign tactics as decided at the branch level, e.g. eviction defense, protests of social security offices, courthouse blockades, attendance at strategic labor strikes, and other direct action support.
- Commits to a Coordinated County-Wide Campaign: Leveraging this more coordinated infrastructure, the chapter will develop and implement the “Neighborhood Solidarity Program” across the Local. This external-facing campaign will primarily foreground demands to cancel rent and expand government benefits to all people within Los Angeles regardless of employment status, but with special attention given to the poor, unemployed, underemployed, precariously employed and those excluded from the formal employment pool. This campaign should serve as a communication tool to recruit and engage unorganized members of our communities in our work, and connect hyper-local activities to ambitious political demands.
- Debating and/or deciding on direct, disruptive actions that build working class solidarity, consciousness and power for the Branch to engage in (within the Branch geography), with regards to the Neighborhood Solidarity Program;
- Coordinating tactics and sharing experiences between the neighborhood level formations;
- Conducting training for members to prepare for direct actions, organizing the unorganized, and other relevant skills and political education with regards to the Neighborhood Solidarity Program.
- Campaign should focus on direct action and disruptive power as primary strategies for achieving demands, with specifics to be debated and decided at the branch level. Branch Coordinators should also coordinate with one another on tactics in order to utilize the strength of our full chapter membership across Los Angeles.
- Emphasis will be placed on cultivating relationships with other tenant and community organizations across Los Angeles, both to collaborate on work and to build DSA-LA’s membership.
- Campaign will also pay special attention to the recruitment of those most vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting economic fallout, making clear that dues waivers are available at the local and national level for those who need it. Chapter leadership, including the DSA-LA finance committee will coordinate a monthly dues drive, and other fundraisers as needed to support these members. The Chapter will also work with the Language Justice Committee to increase the availability of Spanish language materials, starting with the DSA-LA website, to make the barrier to entry as low as possible.
- The Neighborhood Solidarity Program will be implemented as branch business for the duration of the campaign (1 year), while the Neighborhood Group formations may continue to function past the period of the campaign. At the expiration of the initial campaign, Branch Coordinators will organize an assessment of the Neighborhood Solidarity Program’s success, with the option to extend the campaign. During the campaign, Branch business will include, but not be limited to:
- Connects all rank and file members to ongoing organizing work: Neighborhood Organizers will be responsible for ensuring all DSA-LA members on their lists are both engaged in neighborhood-based solidarity building through their Neighborhood Group (which includes hyperlocal mutual aid and tenant organizing) and connected to at least one of relevant various committee organizing circles the chapter is engaged in mass work in (including but not limited to existing labor circles and immigrant circles).
More details on the proposed Neighborhood Solidarity Program: Drawing from historical efforts like the unemployment councils of the CPUSA in the 1930s and contemporary autonomous projects like the Los Angeles Tenants’ Union (LATU) and the Bay Area’s Tenant and Neighborhood Councils (TANC), this proposal is designed to center the neighborhood as a critical area of struggle as a means to advance the socialist project under a common programme during crisis. To meet the moment, this resolution centers:
- Identifying unemployment & tenant movements as strategic terrains of struggle;
- The role of direct action and disruptive power as a primary tactic;
- Integration of resolution campaigns in chapter structure to strengthen coordination and member participation.
This campaign is designed to extend organizers the following tools:
- Housing and Homelessness trainings and resources to prepare all members for struggle and organizing against landlords and the police where they live;
- Mutual Aid trainings to build community members capacity to share skills and build solidarity with nonmembers in our communities with the aim of bringing them into our movement;
- Political Education resources to build members’ knowledge of and ownership of our struggle;
- Access to a mass, coordinated, campaign where individual struggles and mutual aid work is connected to a set of militant political demands that build on their individual struggles.
A Note on Fundraising for Resources
Ambitious goals require ambitious strategies and may necessitate substantial resources. Fundraising through the finance committee will support the material resources required and set up a drive for the Comrades For Comrades program. Note that all Mutual Aid at the neighborhood level should not feature fundraising, and any requests for monetary support should be coordinated with the Branch Coordinators and Steering Committee via the chapter’s existing proposal structure.
Anticipated timeline following resolution passage:
- Following Annual Convention; Current leadership of the Neighborhood Organizing project transitions membership information, contacts, and responsibilities to the Branch Coordinators
- Branch Coordinators set up a regular reporting and accountability channels with all Neighborhood Organizers and Captains (recruiting and training more members into these roles as appropriate)
- Branch Coordinators will articulate a maximum number of contacts to ensure Neighborhood Organizing roles are accessible for all members (and not only those with an abundance of free time)
- Branch Coordinators may undertake these responsibilities in collaboration with Branch Organizing Committees.
- All Neighborhood Organizers are trained by and in regular contact with their Captain (who in turn report to Branch Coordinators)
- Branch decision-making
- In consultation with branch members, Branch Coordinators assign and organize lists of members to maintain contact with Neighborhood Organizers based on geographic proximity, or other preferred criteria (such as Neighborhood Council jurisdictions)
- Via democratic vote, each Branch votes to prioritize 2 initial topics for political study. The Political Education Committee will provide a list of initial suggestions but will develop study guides and offer facilitation trainings aligned with whatever initial topics each Branch votes to prioritize.Branches can vote to prioritize future, additional topics for structured resources in 4 months
- Housing and Homeless Committee refines assigned trainings and toolkits. (detailed on pg. 8-9).
- Mutual Aid Committee refines assigned trainings and toolkits.(detailed on pg 9)
November 2020 – March 2021
- On a schedule organized by Branch Coordinators, a sequence of trainings and toolkits developed by Housing and Homeless & Mutual Aid are rolled out and shared with with all Neighborhood Organizers: At least one training should be offered per month, and all Neighborhood Organizers will follow-up with members and non-members after training and events to offer support
- Political study aligned with topics prioritized by Branch vote will be ongoing, on schedules coordinated by Neighborhood Organizers
- Each month, Neighborhood Organizers report progress and conversations to Neighborhood Captains and ultimately the Branch Coordinator (via call and/or written report), as prescribed by Branch Coordinators
- Time at all Branch Meetings is dedicated to topics informed by ongoing neighborhood-based work and an assessment of the Neighborhood Solidarity Program against its stated goals
March 2021: Mid-point check in:
- Informed by ongoing conversation at Branch Meetings and with Neighborhood Organizers, all Branch Coordinators and Steering Committee will convene a formal meeting to assess goals of the proposal against progress (assessing member activity, chapter growth and development, coordination between Committees and Branch Coordinators, and other relevant dimensions)
- Branch Coordinators share assessment and and recommendations coming out of the meeting with Branch membership
- As determined by Branches; other trainings and resources aligned with the goals of this resolution shall be developed by DSA-LA Committees at the service of the continued implementation of this resolution
Two months before the 2021 Annual Convention
- Chapter-wide reflection and assessment of neighborhood-based work, trainings, and overall implementation of this resolution
- Branch Coordinators will publish a report on implementation of the resolution for membership. Report should include metrics of attendance, skill-building, and engagement as well as lessons learned and recommendations, particularly in regards to the extension of the campaign
Component 2: Organizational Priorities with which this proposed resolution is aligned and motivation for the resolution.
“We will organize with ambitious and emancipatory ends in mind, such as raising the collective consciousness of all people’s struggles and normalizing guaranteed rights that have been denatured under capitalism, while seeking concrete material wins and outcomes at every opportunity.”
The political education component of this proposal is essential to its strategy of popularizing socialist solutions to the contradictions and brutality of the capitalist system. Deliberate political education efforts both attract new members, and deepen existing members’ commitment and ownership of our socialist project. Consciousness-raising will be embedded within local meetings (as opposed to being offered electively) with the express purpose to contextualize the struggles of both DSA and non-DSA members as exploitation under capital, with the emphasis on shared class struggle. In doing so we hope to make clear the importance of solidarity and action to achieve concrete material wins, and to emphasize the importance of joining the movement via membership to DSA. The dual focus of political education/agitation and direct action serves to galvanize a stronger, self-conscious working class movement that builds on LA’s own radical tradition.
“Our goals encompass our participation in rebuilding a strong Left for everyone, not just members of our organization, and we do not wish to become a totalizing force or offer a singular solution to organizing on the Left. Instead, we aspire to build strength through solidarity, and offer a challenging alternative to capitalism for everyone.”
We want to build a strong Left for everyone, and this means working in solidarity with those in the working class who are not yet ready to call themselves socialists. This does not mean that we are content for them to remain outside our membership, and through a stronger political education component and Comrades for Comrades, we hope to enroll everyone involved on the group level with DSA. However, it is necessary that we work in alliance with the working class as it is, not as we want it to be. This means building the capacity of our own membership to work as organizers and agitators. This campaign will provide many new opportunities for new and existing but as-yet uninvolved DSA members to work as organizers at the neighborhood level, recruiting participants who would benefit from the development of community resources (shared child watch, food aid, support with internet-based applications, etc.), or want to fight for better protections, from their apartment buildings and neighborhood blocks. With DSA members on the ground all across the city, recruiting non-DSA working class to engage in mutual aid, socialist political education, and participate in direct action, we are not only building strong relationships with the working class all over LA, but we are growing the capacity of our current membership to organize effectively with the working class.
Component 3: Outline the ways this resolution would offer opportunities to engage new and active members, and intentionally build a broader base of engagement and membership in our organization throughout Los Angeles County.
A central thrust of this campaign is to recruit, engage and retain new DSA members, and the best way to engage new members across racial and socioeconomic divisions of Los Angeles is to approach recruitment on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis. Los Angeles is a profoundly stratified city, but as DSA membership grows, so does our ability to organize hyper-locally, by supporting all of our members with the skills and tools to confidently engage their neighbors. The newly-formed Eastside/SGV branch as well as the future South Central branch indicate the potential of DSA’s reach, and we must meet our expansion with efforts on the ground to engage with our communities. Beyond that, this campaign provides opportunities for our hundreds of new members to directly engage with the work of DSA that meets the political moment, plugging members into the organization with the goal of retention via meaningful involvement for everyone.
With the new formation of the Neighborhood Groups under the direction and guidance of Branches, we anticipate members will begin to see themselves not just as participants in DSA’s isolated projects, but organizers building and executing a campaign together. This strengthens the organization by building up membership and developing skills within membership needed to sustain a movement of our anticipated size.
We know that this work will require strong relationships with other organizations, and we are excited by those opportunities to build stronger ties with those organizations. Working collaboratively with the LA Tenants Union Locals will be integral to this campaign, as their expertise in tenant organizing will be essential to those at the local level seeking assistance as evictions for nonpayment due to pandemic unemployment become commonplace and more socialists are supported in organizing their own buildings.
We aim for this campaign to embed DSA within the fabric of local communities, bringing a firmly socialist perspective to community organizing.
Component 4: Across all applicable Committee and Working Group platforms, identify relevant work that supports and advances the goals of this resolution.
Guided by the stated foci of this resolution, its implementation (i.e. tactics and related ongoing work we engage in as a chapter) should be informed and decided by the local membership in regular branch meetings. Branches Coordinators will work with Committees (as specified below) to offer members ongoing opportunities for training and skillbuilding, coordinating with relevant committees on tools to be developed. Potential work to be developed is as followed:
Housing & Homelessness
- Demands for housing justice and against the criminalization of poverty are central demands of this campaign. In addition, the Neighborhood Groups will complement the work already started by StreetWatch and NOlympics, and these groups should be in contact with one another in regards to tactics and targets.
- The committee will:
- Use existing connections and contacts to help build strong relationships between the Neighborhood Groups and LATU;
- Share trainings based off of branch requests for materials, but at minimum along the following topics:
- Tenant Organizing: Guidelines to conversations with fellow tenants
- Rapid Response Networking for Eviction Defense
- Where there are identified needs; coordinate expanded power-up and sanitation resources to be maintained by members of Neighborhood Groups in coordination with StreetWatch
- Mutual aid is a central component of this campaign. Without the funding of the private or state sectors, our ability to organize as a collective is one of our greatest assets. Through the Neighborhood Solidarity Program, there is an opportunity to meet the needs of the membership and the community that the establishment will not.
- While the committee should make their best effort be responsive to needs articulated by Branch Coordinators, at minimum they will develop and share materials along the following lines at the outset of this Resolution:
- Community Child Watch training for members and non-members
- First Aid trainings that build up to a Street Medic program
- Marshalling, Direct Action and De-escalation training that build our membership
- Skill building will be done with the Mutual Aid Living Under Capitalism, including but not limited to UI, SNAP, Medi-Cal, WIC, and others. This could be done with one-on-ones, video presentations, group classes, power up tables, and distributed in educational zines written by DSA-LA for the specific conditions and programs relevant to California & Los Angeles.
- The committee’s goals should be built up to the point where the training therein can be offered to other organizations and our basis for expanding the countywide campaign is expanded out to community partners, allowing the building of broad-based coalitions to do the work.
- Political Education is a central component of this campaign. The Neighborhood Groups will incorporate political education as a regular component of meetings to deepen members’ socialist analysis of the current crisis and develop skills as organizers.
- The committee will:
- Develop a special event related to the current capitalist crisis and its relationship to unemployment to inform and shape the chapter’s strategy/tactics in this stage of capitalism. This event should take up the question: Why — in this moment — should we dedicate organizing efforts in solidarity with the poor, unemployed, underemployed, and precariously employed, and what opportunities does this present for the organized Left?
- Continue running regular chapter orientations (DSA 101), facilitation and organizer training for members to take on leadership roles within their neighborhood.
- While the committee should be responsive to needs articulated by Branch Coordinators, at minimum they will develop and share materials along the following lines at the outset of this Resolution, as prioritized by Branch votes:
- Regional Leftist Labor Histories
- The Intersection of Race and Class: The Racialization of the Working Class and Anti-Racist Organizing Today
- Against Patriarchy: Towards a Socialist Feminist Politics
- Class Struggle and Political Struggle
- Production Disruption: Socialist Workplace Organizing
- Surplus Value & Exploitation: Marxist Economics 101
- Prison Abolition: Theory and Practice
- Ecosocialism or Barbarism: The Fight for Energy Democracy
Agitation & Propaganda / Communications Committee
- Agit-Prop and the Communications Committee would share responsibility for the imagery and public face of the Neighborhood Solidarity Program, as aligned with their goals as an internal resource and standing committee to support chapter priority work.
- The committees will:
- Work on graphic design for the above mentioned training materials, easily accessible to and understood by members;
- Coordinate with Branches and relevant committees to produce materials for a cancel rent campaign and educational events.
- As Covid-19 is a direct result of the ongoing climate catastrophe, work in response to this crisis aligns with Climate Justice’s mission.
- The campaign will rely on input and cooperation with the Transit Committee as Metro saw a huge drop in ridership since March and many Angelinos will not be able to keep up with car payments.
- Transit Committee will consult on the skill-building materials associated with navigating means-tested programs, sharing info on applying for reduced-fare/voucher programs, cash-for-clunkers trade in programs, and low income auto insurance.
- This committee will also keep pressure on Metro to expand their light rail, heavy rail, & commuter lines to provide alternatives to the freeways.
- While this campaign is primarily focused on direct action, action can be in the service of specific legislative campaigns that will ameliorate the worst effects of the Covid 19 crisis and fallout.
- The committee will work with Branch Coordinators to integrate democratically decided electoral priorities into Neighborhood Group work.
- The demands of the campaign focus on pressuring the government to assist with unemployment benefits, healthcare, and to support frontline workers, all aligned with the goals of the Healthcare Justice Committee.
- The committee will work in conjunction with Mutual Aid to develop potential trainings related to healthcare justice, e.g. medic training, kit building, helping people navigate Medi-Cal, Medicare, & Covered California during and after open enrollment.
- As it is very likely undocumented people will continue to be left out of any stimulus payments and unemployment insurance, the Neighborhood Solidarity Program’s demands to cancel rent and provide mutual aid will provide immediate relief for these Angelinos. Additionally, immigrants who enter the organization through the Neighborhood Group will be connected to IJC work by their Neighborhood Organizer.
- The campaign will rely on input and cooperation with the Language Justice Committee to develop multilingual membership materials, such as trainings and the website, as well as help immigrants, especially non-English speakers, in the Neighborhood Groups fill out paperwork to receive state benefits.
- The Labor Committee will continue its successful work in organizing the Workers’ Circles on the terrain of industry, complementary to the work the Neighborhood Solidarity Campaign is organizing by geography. While this resolution is focused on organizing at the neighborhood level, we know building power at the workplace remains critical.
- Neighborhood Organizers will be tasked with connecting people in their Neighborhood Group to ongoing Labor Committee work in the relevant circle, or in solidarity with local labor projects. Additionally, Neighborhood Groups can support strategic labor strikes.
- Labor should contribute to the above mentioned in kind resource sharing to:
- Help members & the community navigate the unemployment process.
- Advise members on the use of Retirement & Health Savings type accounts in order to stay within eligibility guidelines for public assistance like Medi-Cal.
- In kind resource sharing will be needed to help members file their taxes next year after the enhanced unemployment benefits.
- The Neighborhood Solidarity Campaign’s demands are abolitionist in nature and align with the goals of the Prison Abolition Committee. It is well known that formerly incarcerated people under the best of circumstances experience chronic unemployment, so they will need support now more than ever, something that will be done through Neighborhood Groups. Protections against the pandemic for prisoners and people held in ICE detention have been near nonexistent and cruel; this is an injustice that the campaign can highlight and agitate against.
- This resolution aims to contribute to the building of community alternatives to policing and to developing relationships and communication between community members, in part through the above mentioned de-escalation trainings meant to give people alternatives to calling the police for wellness checks, noise complaints, and other disturbances in a neighborhood.
Chapter Resolution 4:A Socialist Commitment to Black Liberation
Authors: Chantel W., Melissa W., Jacob A., Brian W., Brandon R.
Revised September 5th, 2020
This year’s Uprisings in the name of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many others shocked the world. The Black Lives Matter movement’s demand to defund the police has radically transformed the popular conception of what is possible through mass political organizing and action. Moreover, the Coronavirus Pandemic has heightened the structural inequities disproportionately impacting precarious and vulnerable BIPOC communities. The situation has forced an international introspection to assess and dismantle structural racism in the arts, journalism, government, the workplace, and organizing culture. We are not exempt from introspection. As anti-capitalists, the Democratic Socialists of America – Los Angeles (DSA-LA) chapter must make tangible commitments to dismantling racial capitalism, fighting for Black liberation, and defending Black lives.
DSA-LA must acknowledge that as a national and local organization it has not sufficiently centered the particular struggles and experiences of the Black community. This is true of its recent history, its foundation, and its predecessors. If DSA-LA seeks to build a multi-racial working class movement, the only viable strategy to defeating capitalism, it must proclaim that race and class are not separate concepts to be prioritized over each other, but rather that class and race are inextricable from one another. Cisheteropatriarchy and racial capitalism is to blame for the continued inequities, discrimination, and exploitation experienced by the workers of the world.
We cannot engage in “trickle down” socialism, assuming all gains won will benevolently reach our most oppressed and vulnerable communities, nor should we take for granted that such gains will be adequate redress for the generations of systematic slavery and the capitalist, cultural, and physical exploitation experienced by Black and indigenous communities as well as other persons of color.
Moreover we recognize that there will be no workers’ revolution without the reparative liberation of Black people. It is through this analysis that we act as comrades and accomplices to engage in the constant struggle against fascism, imperialism, and neoliberalism.
DSA-LA must make organizational commitments to center Black people inside and outside the chapter in all of its work. All of DSA-LA’s elected leadership must make a commitment to building coalitions with Black-led organizations and organizers, especially those with roots in Los Angeles who have been fierce opponents to the industrial complexes of Prisons, Charter Schools, Real Estate, Oil & Natural Gas, and all profit-driven systems that have seen Black life as disposable. As outlined below, this resolution must be reflected in all of DSA-LA’s work, but there is a special emphasis on the relationship of Branches, especially South Central & Inglewood as this is where the Black community of Los Angeles has historically been concentrated and resists the onslaught of gentrification.
We recognize our role as a member-led organization to be a continuous driver of change, organizing support for the demands and interests of Black organizers. DSA-LA must commit time, energy, and funds on organizing support for the People’s Budget of LA and the central demand to defund the police. We do not recognize the police as the working class, but rather state-actors who terrorize the Black community regardless of class, the unhoused, the undocumented, and working class people of all races through state-sanctioned violence in order to ensure a permanent underclass. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles and all organizers fighting to dismantle the racist policing and prison industrial complex.
Through deep reflection and critical analysis, we must confront and rectify biases and blind spots hindering DSA-LA from actualizing our goal of becoming a multi-racial organization fighting for the liberation of ALL peoples.
Omitting the vibrant history of Black radical feminist movements, Black gay, lesbian, queer, and trans liberation movements, and Black abolitionist movements? That is to white-wash socialist history.
Without acknowledging that the marriage of racism and capitalism underpins all systems of oppression in the U.S., we risk continuing to replicate the same white supremacist practices within our organization. In order to enact this resolution, it will require a commitment of resources in the form of time, funding, and energy.
As socialists a common critique of corporate workplaces and, “the non-profit industrial complex,” is that consultants are often hired to create anti-oppressive environments as an extension of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Corporate trainings are often feckless, primarily because they do not diagnose capitalism itself as inherently oppressive. Instead, we seek third-party experts, such as those from the worker-owned cooperative Anti-Oppressive Resource & Training Alliance (AORTA) who share DSA-LA’s values. Such trainings can hopefully develop a consciously anti-oppressive organizing culture that allows the chapter to engage in meaningful liberatory work.
While we see this resolution as necessary, we find it unfortunate that this many resources must be dedicated to make DSA-LA a space that is safe for the Black community and champions issues that disproportionately impact Black people. DSA-LA has already become a reputable political force fighting on behalf of the working class issues. If we can achieve this transformation, imagine how much more impactful we can be.
This resolution represents the internal and external initiatives necessary to achieve an organizing culture and vision that prioritizes Black liberation. We define internal initiatives as necessary reflections and transformations of our organizing culture and inclusivity of our spaces. The enlistment of third-party anti-oppression experts to audit, assess, and facilitate change is necessary both for impartiality and to ensure the responsibility does not fall on marginalized organizers. We define external initiatives as actions that impact the communities our branches serve through projects, coalition building, and campaigns such as the defunding the police through the People’s Budget of LA and supporting anti-gentrification campaigns.
- There have been nearly 900 killings by LAPD since 2000. Nearly 80 percent were Black and/or Latinx. More than 98 percent were shot to death.
- Black people make up 8 percent of the Los Angeles population but 29 percent of LA County jail population.
- Black people make up 8 percent of the Los Angeles population but 34 percent of its unhoused population.
- Black, Latinx and Pacific Islander residents in Los Angeles County are twice as likely to die of COVID-19 than white residents.
- Over one-third of Black trans people who have interacted with the police reported harassment, and 15 percent reported that they experienced biased motivated assault by officers.
- California’s unemployment rate of Black workers in the front line “essential” workforce is 48 percent, right behind Latinx workers at 55 percent.
- More than 20 percent of people facing deportation on criminal grounds are Black, despite making up only 7.2 percent of the noncitizen population in the US.
- The Black community in Los Angeles is a racial minority experiencing a super-exploitation as a result of systemic racial capitalism.
Component 1 – Description
Be it resolved, DSA-LA shall:
- Commit to a Semi-Annual Anti-Oppression Organizational Assessment and Transformation for Truth & Reconciliation.
- Third Party Anti-oppression experts will audit the internal organizing structures, practices, and cultures and provide binding recommendations to the DSA-LA Conflict Resolution Team and chapter leadership based on their findings.
- Assessment in early January 2021. Final analysis in July 2021.
- Required Resources: Cost of third-party anti-oppression experts.
- Host Quarterly Anti-Racism Workshops for general membership led by outside facilitators.
- Workshops in late January, early May, mid July, and early October 2021.
- Required Resources: Expenditure on third-party anti-oppression facilitators.
- Require all elected leadership to undergo anti-oppression and racial-bias training led by a third-party facilitator.
- Failure to participate will result in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization, triggering review for expulsion.
- Training in February 2021.
- Required Resources: Expenditure on third-party anti-oppression facilitators.
- Incorporate anti-racism sections into new membership courses.
- DSA 101 will include an analysis of Racial Capitalism; how structural racism and white supremacy are inextricable, and reproduced from capitalism.
- DSA 102 will be dedicated to the dismantling of white supremacy in organizing spaces and in Los Angeles.
- Build a dedicated resources webpage to combat Anti-Blackness in DSA.
- Revised courses and webpage will be implemented by April 2021.
- Required Resources: Time for Political Education committee to revise training and website.
- Continue the existence of the Organizing for All (O4A) task force as an open, less prescriptive body that works in coordination with the Steering Committee to build an anti-oppressive organizing culture.
- Year-long commitment starting upon resolution adoption.
- Required Resources: Yearlong administrative resources and time.
- Prioritize campaigns to defund the police and reinvest in human-centered services as outlined in the People’s Budget of LA, of which DSA-LA is a coalition member.
- Year-long commitment starting upon resolution adoption.
- Required Resources: Communications support, campaign organizing resources, funding as-needed throughout the year.
[Section amended 9/8/2020 by friendly amendment submitted by Kristina M., Arielle S. and Alex Wi.]
- Required resources: Will require graphic design resources for promotions and syllabi, honorariums for guest speakers, funding for room reservations for potential events, live streaming via Social media.
- Build, through the Branches and the NSN, coalitions with local Black-led organizations who share our broad political goals.
- Branches/neighborhoods without high density of Black organizations will commit to furthering conversations with the community around combating gentrification and anti-Blackness, and building overall solidarity with Black Angelenos.
- Year-long commitment starting February 2021.
- Required Resources: Time for coalition development.
Component 2 – Organizational Priorities
Build an organizational culture that embodies our socialist ideals, and a welcoming community that supports all members to engage in collective work to dismantle systems of oppression, in accordance with our shared values.
Our organizing culture must be consciously anti-racist. The goal of anti-racism training is to equip membership with an ability to identify and dismantle racial bias and prevent Black, indigenous, and POC members from experiencing the same microaggressions in organizing spaces that they experience in a racist profit-driven society.
Cultivate a culture of openness, respect, and camaraderie by aiming to meet people where they are and assume good intentions, recognizing that everyone comes to organizing from different perspectives and experiences.
Cultural competency is a real obstacle for recruitment and retention among Black, indigenous, and POC membership. This is not merely a moralist conclusion, but a materialist one as well. Culture is a product of labor, environment, and tradition. Powerful histories of emancipation, sanctuary, and self-determination are culture. For us to achieve a stronger organization, we must actively work to make the organization not just a big tent for political ideologies, but a big tent to cultural experiences.
Forge and maintain intentional, deliberate and reciprocal relationships as well as share resources with other organizations who share our broad political goals. This includes other explicitly socialist and anti-capitalist organizations, as well as non-socialist organizations whose politics and values align with ours and are working towards similarly defined ends, while working to avoid duplication of efforts.
Protagonism, the understanding that we must be comrades in the liberation of all peoples, must be the driving force behind our coalition building; however organizers must respect and recognize the specific experiences and perspectives Black-led organizations have leading emancipatory movements. Coalitions are built on mutual respect, with an understanding that Black-led organizations should be viewed as indigestible and self-determined bodies, not to be co-opted or tokenized. Only through thoughtful and strategic collaboration, will DSA-LA become an organization fully in the fight for Black liberation.
Work to develop partnerships with other organizations to challenge and transcend the stratifications that divide Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is a city that has historically been segregated through redlining, job discrimination, policing and other forms of structural racism. As a result, political struggles even within the Left often are racialized. As a multi-racial organization, we should see our role as being able to overcome these racial divisions of the working class and build united, popular coalitions in a common struggle against racial capitalism.
Recognizing that learning and growth as organizers includes and requires being challenged, encourage and support learning and growth in all members by offering opportunities to develop new skills and take on additional responsibilities.
Through constant examination, we can normalize a culture of change and growth. Conscious anti-racism is essential to capacity building skill. Mistakes will happen. By assuming good faith and committing to a collective willingness to transform, the multi-racial movement necessary to winning democratic socialism can be built.
Amendment 1 (Submitted by Michael S. and Sarah F. and adopted as friendly 9/8/20)
YDSA has been at the forefront of addressing the lack of diversity within the organization that has hindered our ability to be reflective of the multiracial working class. YDSA has found particular success in diversifying our organization and rooting itself in the working class by investing in developing chapters at community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
We must support YDSA’s efforts to recruit and train organizers at high schools, community colleges, and MSIs in particular so that we may improve our organizing, improve our representation of the working class, aid in unifying class struggle around both universal and particular struggles, and ultimately aid in creating a unified socialist movement that is anti-racist in action, and not only in name.
DSA-LA must provide material support for the formation and development of YDSA chapters in nearby community colleges, and high schools, and MSIs. These resources may include organizer trainings, individual- and campus-level mentorship, and inclusion in chapter-wide campaigns.
Component 3 – Advancing Committee and Working Group Goals
Housing & Homelessness Committee
The Black community has been historically segregated, policed, and surveilled along zoning and redlined boundaries in South Central Los Angeles. Presently, capitalist accumulation by dispossession is one of the most vicious threats to Black life in Los Angeles. South Central and Inglewood are facing gentrification that not only contributes to a rise in houselessness and police brutality, but cultural landmarks like the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Mall may fall to urban renewal.
The Housing & Homelessness committee has already been on the front lines in coalition with the LA Community Action Network through Street Watch, organizing unhoused tenants, and directly challenging the LAPD for its abuses. As a result of COVID-19, mass evictions will likely take place while unhoused residents are already extremely vulnerable to contracting Coronavirus. As highlighted by H&H’s “Rally for Black Unhoused Lives,” a disproportionate 34 percent of the unhoused population is Black. A socialist commitment to Black liberation will require increased support of this work by the chapter with time, energy, and resources.
Prison Abolition Committee
The prison and policing industrial complexes are state sanctioned violence against Black people, enslaving and terrorizing communities by race for profit. There cannot be Black liberation as long as there are policing and prisons.
Out of the George Floyd uprisings has come the paradigm-shifting demand to defund the police. In Los Angeles this has taken the form of the People’s Budget of LA, a product of Black Lives Matter LA’s organizing efforts. Non-reformist reforms are gaining traction such as the 8,000 prisoners being released in California, the 35 percent defunding of LASPD, and the first steps by LA City Council to reduce the operating budget of LAPD. While this is encouraging, as abolitionists DSA-LA has a responsibility to continue education about what defunding the police means and what proposals are abolitionist demands. As an organizational force, it is also necessary to remain in the fight for campaigns like the People’s Budget of LA as vocal, mobilized coalition partners.
If DSA-LA is going to dismantle internalized white supremacy and colonialism, it will require re-education. Trainings on how to change our organizing culture and coalition building with Black-led organizations are crucial, but without a deep understanding and appreciation for Black Marxist theory, capitalism’s dependency on racism or an analysis of contemporary Black Power movements, DSA-LA risks endorsing an incomplete class-reductionist analysis that fails to understand the centrality of racial struggle in anti-capitalist movements.
The resolution calls for DSA-LA to dedicate its overarching Political Education focus for 2021 to Anti-Racism and the Black Radical Tradition. These are not overly prescriptive commitments, but rather a declaration that DSA-LA needs to develop a clear political line on racial capitalism. The political education committee has already streamlined new membership trainings, and assembled an educational series, “Lost Angeles” that roots socialist organizing to the multi-racial anti-capitalist roots of Los Angeles. This resolution presents an opportunity to further the committee’s goals of building and maintaining emancipatory educational spaces that are welcoming and inclusive of all people.
Through extensive internal and external political education and engagement around the connections between capitalism and racism, DSA-LA will become a more informed, disciplined, and organized force in the fight for racial and economic justice.
The working class is disproportionately Black and Brown; yet too often, discussions on the Left around developing a strategy towards Black liberation and racial justice are essentialized and separated from questions of how to develop a democratic, militant labor movement that’s committed to building worker power and confronting capital.
Amendment 2 (Submitted by Michael S. and accepted as friendly 9/8/20)
In truth, we cannot achieve racial justice without directly addressing the root capitalistic causes of both economic inequality and structural racism, and there can likewise be no organized multiracial working class without the deliberate transformation and growth of the labor movement. DSA-LA should prioritize direct engagement with workers in strategic industries and workplaces where they can best leverage their power to strike blows against capital and raise class consciousness. However, in our approach to labor work, we must also lift up and directly engage with the particular struggles of Black and other oppressed workers in our articulation of a social democratic program of class-wide demands which would have a disproportionate material impact on their lives.
For example, public education is a key area for struggles against both capitalism and racism. Decades of austerity, unregulated charter school growth and bloated police budgets have drained resources from public schools and services, widened wealth and income inequality, and reinforced segregation in California, a state which has the fifth-largest economy in the world, yet currently ranks 39th best in the country in terms of per-pupil spending. The results have been devastating for LAUSD, where the student body is 89 percent students of color and 77 percent low-income students. UTLA has committed to realizing racial and economic justice both in public schools and throughout LA, and DSA-LA must be a close partner in fighting back against the racist implementation and effects of austerity and privatization.
UTLA has been working with Black Lives Matter, Students Deserve, ROS-LA, and SEIU Local 99 to fight for safe, equitable and police-free schools, common good demands, and taxing the rich through Proposition 15. DSA-LA should always seek to lift up and engage in struggles that underline the link between capitalism and racism so that we’re better able to dismantle all systems of oppression and exploitation.