2018 NYC-DSA Convention

The past year has shown continued growth in the NYC DSA chapter, not only in membership but working groups and branches. The chapter has nearly doubled its dues paying membership from last year, divided our huge Brooklyn branch into three smaller but still strong branches, and certified a bevy of working groups, whose goals and proposed tactics match the diversity of material interests and ideologies present in our chapter.

Regarding our campaign work, the chapter has shown a commitment to connecting the dots between the interests of our constituency. A housing justice campaign based in our Central Brooklyn branch lead to a socialist candidate getting over 8000 votes in that same neighborhood. The new strike working group has been supporting direct actions and boycotts of newly formed unions in local business. Our members have also been engaging in community support and solidarity work, not only for people affected by the extreme weather events in Texas and Puerto Rico of the past year, but with displaced tenants in Lower Manhattan and unjustly targeted commuters at East New York subway stations.

Internally, we have also matured. The work our chapter needs doing grows all the time and requires more hands on deck. Over the past year, we’ve implemented the major structural demands laid out in our chapters constitution, around new roles on the steering committee and broadening the scope of voices who can speak on behalf of our expanding membership base, bringing ideas and concern to the highest governing body of our chapter, there City Wide Leadership Committee.

But we want to hear from even more of our members and the rest of the page will lay out how folks can participate in guiding the work and shaping character of the chapter. More specifically, the page will explain how the convention will work, deadlines for submitting amendments and resolutions and the steering committee’s rationale in the initial decision around delegate counts per branch. Members can also expect details and reminders to be sent out in weekly email blasts, as well as in updates to this page leading up to the convention.

When and Where is the Convention?

Saturday, May 5th, from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM at Judson Church in downtown Manhattan. Registration will start at 9:00 AM with a forty-five minutes long lunch break at 1:00 PM. Delegates should arrive promptly at 9:00 am, and observers by 9:30 am, to guarantee seating.

What will be decided?

There are going to be four major tasks of the convention:

Constitutional Amendments
Please take a look at our constitution, linked HERE, which was passed last year. The only times to change our constitution are at conventions or specially arranged meetings so if you’ve got an idea for broad structural change or how the various bodies in the chapter relate to each other, this is your best chance.

Resolutions
Instead of debating and amending tasks and perspectives from the steering committee, we wanted to give the membership at large the opportunity to submit resolutions. As opposed to amendments, which are more lasting structural changes, resolutions can be recommendations for actions, stances, campaigns or coalitions that the chapter should take on and are binding to our agenda in the coming year and should be considered binding for the upcoming steering committee. Two examples of resolutions from the 2017 DSA National Convention were a statement of support for BDS and an agreement to officially leave the Socialist International. 

Electoral Candidate Endorsement
Our electoral working group is presenting an electoral candidate it recommends that NYC-DSA endorse. Their proposed endorsements will be sent out to all members before the April branch meetings and 60% of delegates at the convention must agree in order to receive the endorsement of NYC-DSA.

Officer Elections
There are 6 officers on the Steering Committee — two co-chairs, a treasurer, a secretary, a working group coordinator and a membership coordinator. Any member in good standing may run for an officer position, but they must have at least 5 endorsers and submit a candidate statement. 

Members may run on their own, or organize a slate of candidates to run. A slate is a team of candidates who have jointly developed a plan for what they want to do on the Steering Committee together.

Who can attend?

The Steering Committee decided to increase the total number of delegates, from 108 to 201, in order to get more folks involved, not just at the convention but during the rest of the year. Another change from last year is in how our delegates are being apportioned, by zip code instead of meeting attendance. Each branch of New York City Democratic Socialists of America will elect a total number of delegates roughly proportional to the number of people in their branch’s geographical area. The Steering Committee determined the sizes of each branch's delegation relative to others using the member lists from National with the maps in Action Network and a list of members who are not in Action Network since they do not have listed emails.

After geographic branches agreed on zip code boundaries for the delegate allocation purposes, we tallied up all members in those areas. We then counted the members from YDSA, Labor and CUNY and added them to the total number of members from geographic branches. Using that final number as the denominator, we determined the proportion of each branch’s members relative to others and multiplied by 201. This determined the final allocation for each branch.

We changed this for a few reasons:

  • DSA is not a cadre organization and gives equal representation to all members, despite their level of activity

  • Branches have varied methods of tracking members’ attendance

  • There are structural advantages for some branches - youthful demographics encourage higher attendance - and disadvantages for others - poor transportation options depress turnout, which would lead to unequal representation

  • This is how national DSA apportions delegates, based on dues paying members in the relevant geographic areas’ zip codes

With that said, here is how the delegates would breakdown by branch:

Branch Delegate Allocations (Alternates)
Bronx/Upper Manhattan: 26 (6)
Central Brooklyn: 49 (13)
CUNY: 6 (2)
Labor: 10 (2)
Lower Manhattan: 26 (6)
North Brooklyn: 34 (8)
Queens: 22 (5)
South Brooklyn: 24 (6)
YDSA: 4 (2)
 
Delegates have all been elected by the branches.

In addition to the 201 delegates elected from each of our branches, we anticipate having space for about 100 observers to attend. However the planning committee agreed that observer spots should be reserved first for delegate alternates (especially if elected delegates have to drop out), second to folks who volunteer to help on the day of the event, third to other dues-paying members of NYC DSA and fourth to members in other nearby chapters.

To register as an observer or a volunteer, please go to http://bit.ly/nycdsa-con2018-obs by Thursday, May 3.

 

Looking forward to seeing you all there!