2019 NYC-DSA Convention
When and Where is the Convention?
Saturday, June 1 from 10am to 4pm at Judson Church in downtown Manhattan. Registration will start at 9am with a lunch break at approximately noon. Delegates should arrive promptly at 9am, and observers by 9:30am, to guarantee seating. The space is wheelchair accessible and childcare will be provided on-site.
What is the purpose of convention?
Convention is the highest decision-making body of NYC-DSA and meets once annually to elect officers to our Steering Committee and to debate and decide issues affecting the organization of the chapter and its political orientation. It’s the only time to amend our chapter’s constitution, outside of special meetings called for that purpose.
What will be decided?
There are going to be four major tasks of the convention:
Please take a look at our constitution, linked here. Our annual convention is the only time to amend our chapter’s constitution, outside of special meetings called for that purpose, 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.
Examples of passed amendments included an amendment to create the Citywide Leadership Committee, an amendment to expand our electoral endorsement process, and amendments to create the Membership Coordinator and Working Group Coordinator positions on the Steering Committee.
As opposed to amendments, which are more lasting structural changes, resolutions can be recommendations for actions, stances, or campaigns 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.
Examples of resolutions passed at last year’s convention included a resolution to implement voluntary, monthly chapter dues and a resolution to form a committee to help members secure jobs in unionized workplaces and connect them with rank-and-file activists in the labor movement to organize within their unions. Examples of resolutions from the 2017 DSA National Convention were a statement of support for the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions movement and an agreement to officially leave the Socialist International.
This year at convention, we will also vote on a policy platform. The Citywide Leadership Committee resolved at its February 10, 2019 meeting to call on membership to develop a 12-point policy platform that will help us evaluate our organization and our work. By developing a policy platform, the Citywide Leadership Committee hopes to make better decisions about campaign priorities and endorsements, identify our allies and targets, provide a framework for holding elected leadership accountable, provide a practical path forward for socialism in our lifetime, and increase our relevancy to the working class in New York. Following three town halls in April and input from general membership as well as the working groups and branches, the policy platform will be advanced to the Citywide Leadership Committee in May and then to the convention for a final vote.
There are six officers on the Steering Committee — two Co-Chairs, a Treasurer, a Secretary, a Working Group Coordinator and a Membership Coordinator. Any dues-paying member in good standing may run for an officer position. 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.
This year, in order to reserve time for amendments to the constitution, which can only be passed at convention and special meetings, and our chapter policy platform, bylaws proposals will not be considered and authors will instead be encouraged to submit them at a following Citywide Leadership Committee meeting. Examples of bylaws passed at last year’s convention included a personal leave provision and a bylaw outlining the proper handling of member information. Depending on the number of proposals submitted, amendments to the constitution may also be prioritized over resolutions for time.
How do I submit a proposal for consideration?
Members may submit proposals — those are, amendments to the constitution or resolutions — by visiting bit.ly/nycdsa-con2019-prop. Proposals are due by midnight, May 4 and require at least five co-sponsors by other dues-paying members of NYC-DSA. (Please note, deadline has been extended from April 27 to May 4.)
In order to reserve adequate time for amendments to the constitution and the policy platform, the number of resolutions submitted may be limited following input from general membership about what they would like to see discussed at convention. Additionally, proposals which can be considered amendments to NYC-DSA’s bylaws will not be given time at convention, and members interested in submitting such proposals are encouraged to do so through a following Citywide Leadership Committee meeting.
Members will have the opportunity to submit amendments to proposals closer to convention. A process for submitting amendments will be announced to membership in May.
How do I run for a Steering Committee Officer position?
Members may run for a Steering Committee position by visiting bit.ly/nycdsa-con2019-officer. Proposals are due by midnight, May 4 and require five endorsements by other dues-paying members of NYC-DSA. Per the constitution, Steering Committee Officers are elected by an in-person vote of delegates attending convention.
Who can attend?
Our convention is delegated, meaning that voting and decision-making is done by representatives elected in the organization’s branches.
This year, our citywide convention will have 151 voting delegates—down from 201 at last year’s convention. The NYC-DSA Steering Committee made this decision both for logistical reasons and to foster more competitive elections. Last year’s delegate elections were not particularly competitive overall, meaning that members had less of an ability to vote for delegates based on their stated political positions, such as resolutions they were for or against.
Delegate slots are allocated to branches, who then hold elections for the positions. Branches also elect alternate delegates to the convention to function as voting members at the convention should the branch’s full delegation not be able to attend.
Geographic branches receive their delegate allotments based on an agreed-upon breakdown of New York City zip codes. Members living within the geographic boundaries of a branch are counted toward that branch’s allotment.
Our two non-geographic bodies—our chapter’s Labor Branch and the NYC Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) chapter—received delegates based on different criteria to ensure a voice at the convention.
YDSA was allotted a flat 4 delegates: 1 delegate per institution where there is a YDSA chapter in NYC.
The Labor Branch received an adjusted allotment, which took its membership at the time of the convention last year and adjusted it for the rate of the chapter’s growth.
The breakdown of delegates is as follows.
South Brooklyn: 18 (5)
Central Brooklyn: 36 (10)
North Brooklyn: 23 (6)
Queens: 18 (5)
Lower Manhattan: 21 (6)
Bronx/Upper Manhattan: 20 (6)
Staten Island: 2 (2)
Labor: 9 (3)
YDSA: 4 (2)
Delegate elections are held at the branch level. Keep an eye out from your branch for more information about how elections are being run, or find their contact information here!
Branch delegate elections must be completed by Saturday, May 18. Branches must submit full names and email addresses of their delegations to the Steering Committee.
In addition to the 151 delegates, we anticipate having space for about 100 observers to attend. Any dues-paying members of DSA in good standing may apply to be an observer. Space for observers will be prioritized for convention alternates, convention volunteers, dues-paying members of NYC-DSA, and dues-paying members of nearby chapters, in that order.
To register as an observer or a volunteer, please visit bit.ly/nycdsa-con2019-obs. Applications to observe are due by midnight, May 25.
Looking forward to seeing you all there!