BYLAWS OF THE VETERANS WORKING GROUP

DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA

ARTICLE I. Name.

The name of the Working Group shall be the Democratic Socialists of America Veterans Working Group (DSA VWG). 

ARTICLE II. Purpose.

The DSA Veterans’ Working Group seeks to provide a conduit for veterans to connect with their communities and with each other to fight for our shared goals: racial, economic, social, environmental, gender, religious and disability rights justice. Our mission continues as organizers and comrades helping to enact democratic socialism.

Veterans have seen the inner workings of the beast that is our capitalist, war driven society, creating profit for the 1% at the expense of the many – who are often from working class backgrounds themselves, seeking opportunities to improve their status through military service. On a more positive note, veterans also understand the value of working as a group towards a common goal or mission.

As such, the DSA Veterans’ Working Group seeks to provide a conduit for veterans to connect with their communities and with each other to fight for our shared goals: racial, economic, social, environmental, gender, religious and disability rights justice. We will dedicate our efforts to educate current and former military members in opposing militarism, jingoism, and war-profiteering in addition to teaching members about socialism. We will work with DSA National and other relevant groups on anti-military industrial complex campaigns and creating educational materials for DSA chapters nationwide. 

ARTICLE III. Membership.

Section 1. Membership.

(i) Members of the DSAVWG will be those individuals whose dues to national DSA are paid in full, and who are military veterans, family members of veterans, or — considered on a case-by-case basis — active duty military service members. It will be the responsibility of members to approve policies, statements, guidelines, and directives of the VWG. 

(ii) Quarterly Poll. At least once per quarter, a poll will be emitted electronically to all members of the DSAVWG to ascertain their intent to be active in the next quarter. Members’ responses will be due seven days from when the poll is sent. If the member answers in the affirmative, they will be recorded as an active member for that quarter. Should the member answer in the negative, or provide no response to the poll by the deadline, they will be considered inactive for that quarter. Active members of the DSAVWG will hold no privileges over inactive members. The number of respondents will be used only to calculate quorum, as outlined in Article IV, Section 1, (i). At any time during the quarter, should a member who responded in the affirmative no longer intend to be an active member for any reason, that member is highly encouraged to emit notice of such to the Membership Chair.  

Section 2. Verification of Military Service.

(i) All members of the VWG claiming veteran status must verify their military service to receive access to our information-sharing platform as well as to receive voting rights within the Working Group. DSAVWG will provide a secure platform with which to submit documents, the details of which the Working Group will furnish to new applicants. Acceptable documents may include but not be limited to electronically transmitted copies of any one of the following:

  1. Copy of DD214 (redacted to remove SSN, addresses)
  2. Copy of a Department of Veterans Affairs ID card
  3. other appropriate documents as reviewed by the membership chair 

(ii) A prospective member may opt to verify their military service through the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act Verification Service. Once in possession of that document, the applicant must submit it to DSAVWG.

(iii) The Steering Committee (SC) may elect to require an interview with an applicant prior to their admission into the Working Group.

Section 3. Active Duty Service Members.

(i) Military service members on active duty are eligible for membership in the VWG, but their admission is contingent upon the majority approval of the Steering Committee after completion of an interview by a member of the steering committee and they must be DSA members in good standing.

Section 4. Non-Veteran Members.

(i) Membership is available to family members, partners, and dependents of veterans upon completion of an interview with a member of the steering committee. The Steering Committee may elect, on a case-by-case basis, to admit non-veteran members who do not meet these criteria if by majority vote they decide that said applicant’s membership would benefit the Working Group.

Section 5. Member conduct

(i) Members are expected to act in accordance with our Code of Conduct, which is forthcoming.

Section 6. Removal of Members.

(i) If a full member is found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of national DSA, or if they are found to be consistently engaging in undemocratic, disruptive behavior, or if they are found to be a member of a reactionary political organization seeking to undermine the goals of our Working Group, the VWG may vote to expel them from the Working Group.

(ii) For such a finding to be made, a VWG member in good standing with DSA national must submit to the Steering Committee, in writing, a statement outlining the accusations involved. The Steering Committee will furnish the statement to the member accused with at least two (2) weeks’ notice prior to a hearing in which the accused will have the right to respond.

(iii) At the conclusion of the hearing, the Steering Committee will decide an appropriate course of action from the following:

  1. Mediation. In the case of mediation, the aggrieved parties will seek to resolve their issue in a manner befitting a socialist organization. If the issue is not resolved, or if the issue involves malfeasance, subterfuge, or an attempt to sabotage the VWG, the Steering Committee will proceed to a Steering Committee Vote.
  2. Steering Committee Vote. The Steering Committee will vote on whether or not to remove a member of the group. A simple majority is required. If the Steering Committee votes to remove a member, that member alone may appeal to DSA national. However, in the event of an removal and appeal, the removal will remain in effect until a time in which DSA national opts to reinstate a member.

ARTICLE IV. Meetings.

Section 1. General Meeting.

(i) The Working Group will hold one general meeting per year, during which time all members in good standing will have the opportunity to elect Steering Committee members. Members will receive at least three (3) weeks’ notice prior to the date of the General Meeting, notified by electronic mail.

Section 2. Regular Meetings.

(i) Regular meetings will convene at least once per month via video teleconference, with a recommended frequency of every two weeks. Working Group members in good standing will receive an invitation with dial-in instructions at least one week prior to the meeting.

(ii) The Steering Committee will create the agenda and submit it for member comment prior to the start of meetings. It is the responsibility of the Steering Committee to ensure that all members have access to the agenda and previous meeting’s notes.

Section 3. Emergency Meetings.

(i) The Steering Committee may call an emergency meeting of the Working Group when an urgent and important matter requires deliberation. 

(ii) Notification of emergency meetings to include date, time, and location will be transmitted via the DSA VWG email distribution list and social media channels.  

Section 4. Quorum. 

(i) Ten percent (10%) of members in good standing and considered active in accordance with Article 3, Section 1, (ii) with the DSAVWG, but not less than 10 people, shall constitute a quorum and is required for the transaction of business at a general or regular meeting or in an online vote as described in Section 5.

Section 5. Online voting

(i) Due to the national nature of the Working Group, online voting is a necessity. When the need arises, the voting must be done in a secure format which connects the vote to a member in good standing, Voting information will be sent to the general membership via email and remain open for no less than 48 hours. 

ARTICLE V. Steering Committee.

Section 1. Composition.

(i) The Steering Committee will be composed of  seven (7) persons elected from members of the Working Group.

Section 2. Duties.

(i) The Steering Committee administers the affairs of the Working Group. It shall  receive reports of any Committee, and advise thereon, to call emergency meetings of the Working Group, and to act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action. The Steering Committee is the centralized body of the Working Group and is responsible to the general membership for implementation and execution of all decisions of the general and regular meetings.

Section 3. Meetings.

(i) Steering committee meetings will be scheduled at regular intervals not to exceed 6 weeks. Non-regular meetings may be scheduled in consultation with no less than 4 members of the steering committee.

(ii) All members of the Working Group must be given four days oral or written notice of regular Steering Committee Meetings; a 24-hour notice may be given under special emergency circumstances.

(iii) All steering committee meetings will be open to the general membership for observation with the exception of those meetings which are called for the purpose of responding to Removal of Members and/or harassment. 

(iv) The Steering Committee can be compelled to meet by a majority vote of the membership to address an issue or issues decided by a majority vote of the membership. The meeting must be convened and concluded within 96 hours of the time the Steering Committee is notified that the membership has voted they must meet. 

Section 4. Quorum.

(i) A quorum of four members of the Steering Committee is required for the transaction of Steering Committee business.

(ii) In the event of a quorum meeting, all absent members of the Steering Committee should receive notification of any decisions or updates, as needed.

ARTICLE VI. Steering Committee Positions

Section 1. Officers and Terms.

(i) The elected members of the Steering Committee will be the Co-Chairs, Membership Chair, Information Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, and Education Director. The term of office will be one year, and shall run from May 1 to April 30 each year or until their successors are elected. No less than 2 members of the Steering Committee positions will be held by self-identified non-cis men. No steering committee position shall be held by an individual person for greater than 2 successive years. 

Section 2. Vacancies.

(i) In the event of a vacancy in the Steering Committee, the remaining members will nominate a replacement from among the membership of the Working Group on the advisement of the general membership. 

(ii) The member nominated by the Steering Committee must be ratified by a majority vote of the membership before assuming their duties.  

Section 3. Co-Chairs.

(i) The Co-Chairs will be the guiding members of the Working Group. They will facilitate Working Group and Steering Committee meetings or will appoint a substitute to assume the duties of the facilitator. The Co-Chairs will initiate such actions and policies as the Working Group’s general welfare may demand. 

(ii) The Co-Chairs will be responsible for meeting coordination relevant to the Working Group’s business and regular functions.

(iii) The Co-Chairs will make meeting minutes and reports available to all members of the Working Group.

(iv) Disseminate notifications, polls, statements, or other messages for the benefit of the Working Group.

(iv) Not less than 1 of the co-chairs shall be a self-identified non-cis man. 

Section 4. Membership Chair.

(i) The Membership Chair facilitates member recruiting, retention, and engagement. 

(ii) Regarding Working Group member recruiting and retention, the Membership Chair is responsible for the following:

a. Maintaining an accurate and up to date list of working group members to include quarterly active members in accordance with Article III, Section 1, (ii). 

b. Collecting all supporting documentation from applicants to confirm veteran status

c. Verifying that new members are DSA national members in good standing

d. Development and maintenance of an effective onboarding and retention program for members 

Section 5. Information Chair.

(i) The  Information Chair manages all information technology at the Working Group’s disposal. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Managing Twitter and Facebook accounts
  2. Managing the Google Drive and Gmail account
  3. Managing the Zoom account subscription for video teleconference
  4. The information chair shall facilitate a technology committee with the purpose of maximizing technology to disseminate our message. 

Section 6. Treasurer

(i) The Treasurer promotes the financial development and growth of DSAVWG in order to support ongoing projects of DSAVWG and costs associated with member participation in the annual general meeting.

(ii) At a minimum, they will be responsible for:

  1. Maintaining the funds and financial records for DSAVWG
  2. Preparing and presenting financial statements for quarterly review by the membership
  3. Organizing an ad hoc committee to promote at least one (1) large annual fundraiser per year. 

Section 7. Secretary. 

(i) The Secretary will be responsible for answering all correspondence and queries of the Working Group. They will ensure effective communication with the national DSA. The secretary will also be responsible for assuming the responsibilities of a Chair if the Chair is not able to do so. 

(ii) The Secretary will be responsible also for the taking of minutes of all Regular and Steering Committee meetings, and shall have custody of these minutes, and the resolutions, reports and other official records of the Working Group. They shall transfer official records in good condition to their successor. Official records shall include meeting minutes and member lists.

Section 8. Education Director

(i) The Education Director will be responsible for the Educational Work of the DSAVWG, organizing the internal educational activities to develop the DSAVWG members as political organizers, activists, and theorists. 

(ii) The Education Director will be responsible for organizing educational materials related to the historical significance of veteran activism. 

Section 9. Additional Duties.

(i) The Steering Committee may assign additional temporary duties to a member of the Working Group, so long as such assignments do not conflict with the designation of responsibilities outlined in these Bylaws. These temporary duties, when not assigned to a member of the steering committee, do not provide a member a vote for the steering committee.

ARTICLE VII Committees.

Section 1. Duration.

(i) The Working Group will have Ad Hoc Committees, which will exist for a limited and explicit duration. Ad Hoc Committees may be established by a vote of full members at a Regular Meeting of the Working Group.

Section 2. Duties.

(i) Chairs of Ad Hoc Committees will keep the Steering Committee and the Regular Meetings of the Working Group informed on the activities of the committee.

ARTICLE VIII. Prohibited Activity

(i) The DSA Veterans Working Group shall not engage in activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by DSA’s National Convention or DSA’s National Political Committee.

ARTICLE IX. Nominations and Recalls.

Section 1. Nominations Committee.

(i) A three-person Nominations Committee shall be established at least one month prior to every election by vote of a Regular Meeting. It shall solicit and receive nominations for the positions to be elected.

Section 2. Nominations Process.

(i) Nominations for Working Group officers and delegates to the National Convention shall be opened 10 days before and closed at the General Meeting. Members in good standing may self-nominate. The call for nominations shall be announced to full members of DSA in advance of the General Meeting. 

Section 3. Uncontested Positions.

(i) If a position is uncontested, the nominee will be declared elected by acclamation.

Section 4. Leadership Recall

(i) As leadership positions of the Working Group exist to serve the Working Group, any elected or appointed officer in the Steering Committee, or other Working Group committees may be recalled at any time by following the below procedures.

A recall vote may be triggered by petition signed by a number of members equal to or greater than 25% of the average attendance of the last 6 Working Group general meetings. Once triggered, the SC shall organize a forum on the recall to take place at the next general meeting, where a simple majority shall be required to recall the officer. 

 Additionally, in the case of malfeasance or nonfeasance of an Steering Committee officer, the SC may call a vote to remove an officer, with a unanimous two-thirds majority vote of the OC required to execute the removal. Officers may not vote in the matter of their own recall. If a member of the SC is closely connected to the accused, such as a partner or roommate, they must recuse themselves from the vote.The rationale and result of any such vote called must be published to the membership.

Malfeasance shall be defined as intentional misuse of Working Group resources, abuse of Working Group steering committee position powers, or deliberate misrepresentation of the positions of the Working Group. Nonfeasance shall be defined as missing 3 steering committee meetings in a row without prior approval, an ongoing or repeated failure to execute Officer duties and maintain regular contact with other Working Group Officers, without making arrangements to be replaced or voluntarily stepping down from the position.

ARTICLE X. Amendments.

(i) Proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be made by written resolution, endorsed by five members of the Working Group, and submitted to the Steering Committee 14 days in advance of a General or Regular Meeting.

(ii) The Steering Committee is required to provide the Working Group membership with one week written notice of the proposed amendments. The amendment must be approved by a majority vote of two consecutive (Regular of General) Working Group meetings.

ARTICLE XI. Rules of the Working Group.

Section 1. Rules.

(i) Consensus decision-making is desirable whenever possible and will follow Martha’s Rules of Order, which asks for:

  1. A sense vote prior to discussion (likes, can live with, uncomfortable with proposal)
  2. Moving to vote, action, or further work in committee dependent upon majority sense vote 

Section 2. Action Out of Order.

(i) Any action taken by an officer or member of the Working Group in contravention of these Bylaws is null and void.

ADOPTION OF BYLAWS:

We, the Democratic Socialists of America Veterans Working Group, do hereby approve these bylaws.

By-laws were sent out to VWG membership via email for review and approval 26MAR-09APR 2018, received 21 votes (meeting quorum of 14 members), 20 strongly in favor of the by-laws as is. The bylaws were immediately effective and the first meeting under the approved bylaws was 11 April 2018. Elections for the first DSA VWG steering committee were held online from 14-16 May 2018 and announced to the membership on 16 May 2018