ECS Constitution

Article I - Statement of Principles

What we believe:

★ All people have a right to live a dignified life.

○ No person should struggle to make ends meet in a world of plenty.

○ No person should die of a curable disease because of birth or misfortune.

○ No person should go hungry while others feast.

○ No person should fear for their lives when they encounter the police.

○ No person should fear for their safety or be treated with disrespect because of their identity.

★ We believe in democratic control over all facets of our lives. Democracy does not end at the workplace - we spend much of our lives at work. We do not believe that our right to live a dignified life ends when we enter the workplace. We should have a say in economic decisions that affect our lives.

★ Too much wealth and power is concentrated in too few hands. We believe in true equity - not privilege and comfort to those who can afford it. The working people of the world are entitled to the wealth that we create.

★ We will fight to make this world one of fulfillment, solidarity and mutual respect instead of a world of cold-hearted competition and greed.

★ We believe that capitalism not only destroys human solidarity but also destroys the world in which we live. We are committed to building a world that protects the earth rather than exploit it for profit.

★ In order to accomplish our goals we believe in a diversity of tactics. Our struggle for a better world cannot be limited to a singular ideology or strategy. We believe in building a broad based socialist movement to include anarchists, communists, social democrats, and anybody else that agrees with our principles. We believe in using all the tools available to dismantle the apparatus of oppression and build a world of solidarity and equality. We seek to accomplish our vision through whatever means are most effective in the time and place.

★ We believe that direct action is the best means to empower ourselves and build solidarity, but do not reject organizing politically.

★ We believe that the task of building a new world is the task of the working class as a whole, rather than a particular party or bureaucratic caste.

Article II - Structure

A. Name - The name of the organization is Electric City Socialists (Scranton Socialists, ECS)

B. Organizational Standing - Electric City Socialists is committed to the principle of free association. As an association of individuals united around common values, we have no official existence or standing within the legal system.

1. The organization functions on the principle of voluntary collective discipline. Collective discipline means that individuals voluntarily assume responsibility to one another, first and foremost in the sense of agreeing to carry out decisions agreed upon by the organization.

C. Committees

1. Standing committees

a. Standing committees operate continuously to ensure the day-to-day functioning of the organization. New standing committees can be created, altered or disbanded by a majority vote of the membership. Membership to a standing committee is voluntary. Members of a standing committee can be on other committees.

b. Standing committees

i. Budget Committee

ii. Membership & Administration Committee

iii. Communications and Outreach Committee

2. The Executive Committee

a. The Executive Committee shall be comprised of the chairs of the three standing committees and one at-large dues paying member in good standing.

b. This is the executive body elected and empowered by the organization to make decisions based along organizational policy lines in between monthly meetings and the General Assembly. Any decisions made by the Executive Committee between regular meetings and the General Assembly must be decided by consensus. The committee is understood to provide leadership to the general membership, although the general membership retains final authority over the committee. The membership retains legislative power and sets organizational policy; it's day-to-day implementation is executed via the Executive Committee. Executive Committee positions are positions of responsibility, not positions of power. All Executive Committee members are responsible for the health and smooth functioning of the organization. As elected representatives of the organization, Executive Committee members are held to highest possible standards in how they represent the organization internally and externally. They should expect to live, embody, and communicate the organizational values, adding both hard work and strategic perspective to the organization.

c. Executive Committee members are likewise expected to regularly attend meetings. Failure to attend regularly may result in removal of the individual in question. If at any time the ability of a Executive Committee member comes into question the Executive Committee member can be recalled from their position following a majority vote of dues paying members in good standing (See Article II, section D).

d. If at any point a member of the Executive Committee cannot continue in their job duties they must notify the organization as soon as possible. All documents related to the position and organization must be turned over to the requisite committee and an election must be held within a month to replace the former member.

e. ONLY Executive Committee members may vote on Executive Committee matters, however, all meetings of the Executive Committee are open to attendance by any member of Electric City Socialists, and all meeting minutes will be made available to the organization. f. At the discretion of the Executive Committee, a consensus will succeed in approving funding for a project, including stipends, to the project leaders. This vote is binding unless overturned by the general membership.

3. Autonomous Groups / Campaigns / Projects

a. Shall be formed on a temporary basis at regular meetings and are formed to work on specific issues. Each group should choose a chair or decide on a clear division of labor to ensure smooth functioning of the committee. Committees shall be composed through a majority vote of those present at the meeting and can be disbanded by same.

b. AGs must follow the Constitution of Electric City Socialists. However, they are free to run their projects however they see fit, within the purview, scope, and values dictated by the General Assembly. AGs are the lifeblood of the organization. Our projects are how we relate to the masses.

4. Officers: Officers will be elected by majority vote of the membership at the General Assembly to be held in July of each year.

a. Treasurer

i. Responsibilities: The Treasurer shall be the chair of the Budget Committee and be responsible for tracking the finances of the organization and will report monthly to the membership the current finances of the organization.

ii. Term: The Treasurer will be elected annually at the General Assembly.

b. Secretary

i. Responsibilities: The Secretary shall chair the Membership Committee and be responsible for managing membership records. The Secretary shall maintain an archive of meeting minutes including a written record of meeting decisions and proposals.

ii. Term: The Secretary will be elected annually at the General Assembly.

c. Communications officer

i. Responsibilities: Chair of the Communications and Outreach Committee. The Communications officer will be in charge of coordinating external communications for the organization through websites and social media; this shall include communication with the press and outreach to other organizations.

ii. Term: The Secretary will be elected annually at the General Assembly.

5. Accountability: If any officer is found to not be upholding the responsibility of the office, any member can raise these concerns to the officer and the membership. Should the officer continue to not fulfill the responsibilities of the office, they may be removed by a majority vote of the full membership.

D. Meetings

1. Organizational meetings will be held at least once a month. Monthly meetings shall address general organizational administration, including the constitution and dissolution of ad hoc committees and projects.

2. Not less than five members or 20% of the membership (whichever is higher) shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business by the organization. The transaction of business shall include:

a. Official motions and the disbursement of organizational funds.

b. Meetings will approve or reject the Treasurer's proposed budget, i.e. allocate funding and revenues from all committees and projects. This includes line item veto power.

c. Hear report-backs from projects and committees.

d. Make announcements concerning events, committee decisions, etc.

e. Approve or reject the establishment of a new project or ad hoc committee.

E. The General Assembly

1. The General Assembly (alternatively known as the GA or Assembly) is the highest authority of Electric City Socialists, and the final decision-making body and assembles once a year in July.

2. A quorum of 50% + 1 members in good standing, in person or by alternate means of communication, is required for a binding vote in the Assembly. The organization will seek to provide the means for ALL members to participate.

3. The constitution can only be altered by an Assembly by vote of 2/3 majority of quorum.

4. An emergency General Assembly can be called by a vote of 2/3 of existing members. Such a convention must be announced at least 1 month in advance.

5. The General Assembly is responsible for determining organizational policy, and tracking the progress of the movement as a whole, and electing members of the Executive Committee.

F. Arbiters and Ad Hoc Grievances Committees

1. The General Assembly will elect two members – Arbiters – to be responsible for accepting formal complaints (grievances) and handling appeals. These individuals shall not be members of the Executive Committee.

2. Any member of the organization can approach one or more Arbiters at any time to help resolve an interpersonal conflict with any other member of Electric City Socialists.

a. Informal discussions with the Arbiter(s), if they have not been lodged as a formal complaint, will be kept private and off the record.

3. At the behest of any member, an Arbiter can attempt to informally resolve any issue or conflict by consulting with all parties and coming to a mutually agreed upon resolution. If this does not work, it is the right of any individual to lodge a formal complaint (grievance) with the Arbiter.

4. After receiving a grievance, both Arbiters will then form an ad hoc Grievances Committee composed of three (3) randomly selected members agreed upon by all parties. If the first random group isn’t agreeable for all parties, then a new random group will be selected until it is agreed upon. The newly-formed committee will deliberate on the case with the guidance of the Arbiters with the purpose of making a recommendation. The Arbiters are not allowed a vote in these proceedings. Deliberation can be done in private, either in the presence of the Arbiter, or not, at the discretion of the Committee.

5. The ad hoc Grievances Committee will handle the case in the manner described below. The grievance and appeals committee can:

a. Determine the grievance has no merit. In this case the matter will be considered closed, unless the complaintant wishes to appeal.

b. Determine if the grievance has merit and formulate a resolution that aggrieved must adhere to.

c. If there is a failure to resolve the grievance, the Grievance Committee may pass the case on to the general membership for final adjudication. The Committee may optionally make a recommendation as to the ruling, or not, at its discretion.

6. The Arbiters may be recalled for any reason, by a majority (50%+1) vote of the General Assembly.

G. Affinity Groups

1. Affinity groups are factions, caucuses, or groups of like-minded members or self-identified people. Affinity groups can be organized around political tendencies (e.g. Marxist-Leninists, or anarchists), identity (e.g. women's caucus, people of color caucus), or common interests (e.g. sewing circle, archery aficionados).

2. Affinity Groups do not have control over Electric City Socialists resources, though they may organize to push resources to one or another project, or push to start new projects and Autonomous Groups, committees, etc.

3. Members of Affinity Groups are encouraged to notify all members of Electric City Socialists of any pending meetings, and afford all members an opportunity to attend and participate in some manner.

4. Reports of the outcomes and subjects of such meetings to the full membership are encouraged.

5. Affinity groups are free to establish criteria for membership to the Affinity Group.

H. Sanctions and Appeals

1. Assistance should be given to help comrades overcome weaknesses and shortcomings, when possible. A deep sense of solidarity and understanding should undergird all actions.

2. Any member can request a sanction against any other person or group. This request is vetted by the Arbiters via the means discussed in Article II section F above. The general membership is free to determine the process of sanctioning using the guidelines enumerated below.

3. An ad hoc Grievances Committee can institute a sanction. Any member or group can be sanctioned.

4. Sanctions against individuals function in the following ways:

a. Recall - Recall is a means to remove an elected or appointed officer from their position. Recall simply means that a vote is taken to ascertain whether another person should assume the position in question. If a recall is successfully pursued, a new election will be held for the position.

b. Removal - Removal removes the person from a group.

c. Suspension for terms of immediate relief - The authority to suspend responsibilities and privileges of members will be delegated to a vote of the majority of members at regular monthly meetings. The length of suspension will be determined by the membership as recommended by either the Grievance Committee or Arbiters

d. Expulsion - Expulsion means the person is kicked out of the organization. Expulsions can only be decided at the General Assembly. This is only done if someone has undertaken a serious breach of the organization’s values. Serious breach of organizational values includes, but is not limited to, the following:

i. Taking bribes or corruption.

ii. Financial chicanery for personal gain.

iii. Engaging in espionage against the group.

iv. Practicing harassment or bullying (see Harassment and Bullying documents) based on, though not limited to, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religious affiliation.

v. Undermining in a serious way the trust of the masses in the organization.

e. Serious breach of organizational values is not meant to include any of the following:

i. Publicly or privately expressing disagreement or dissatisfaction with the organization, organizational direction, or leadership

ii. Advocating any given political line, tactic, policy, or strategy

5. An Autonomous Group can be sanctioned. Sanctions against groups function in the following ways:

a. Recall of any or all officers or members (to be replaced by sortition or election, as per the particular AG)

b. Individual members can be sanctioned (as above per above)

c. A particular AG can be disbanded.

6. Persons and groups who are facing sanction must be made aware of the charges against them, and given opportunity to defend themselves. Members facing expulsion and AGs facing disbandment are given one appeal.

I. Relationship between Electric City Socialists and sister organizations

1. Autonomous Groups and projects that wish to incorporate separately are free to do so, in line with the protocols elaborated in this Constitution.

a. In the event that a project decides to incorporate, members of an Autonomous Group or project are under obligation, based on the principle of free association, to decide upon the structure of said group including the adoption of by-laws.

Article III - The rights and responsibilities of members; reciprocal expectations and duties of the collective.

A. Membership qualifications

1. Electric City Socialists seeks to end all forms of oppression. Membership is open to all persons. Electric City Socialists will not discriminate based on individuals being identified as a person of a historically oppressed group.

2. Questions of fitness for membership will be determined at the General Assembly.

3. Prospective members are expected to adhere to the constitution, follow the values of the Electric City Socialists, and sign a membership card expressing this conviction.

4. In addition, members are expected to pay dues.

5. Members in good standing are expected to volunteer for the organization regularly according to their ability.

B. Rights of members and expectations of the collective.

1. Electric City Socialists recognizes the rights of all peoples, as enshrined in documents such as the US Bill of Rights, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, as well as additional rights proclaimed or as yet unspoken.

2. Members in good standing are allowed to vote in any collective they are amember of – General Assembly, Committee, Autonomous Group or Affinity Group.

a. Electric City Socialists functions on the principle of One Person One Vote.

b. Any member may move at any time for a secret ballot on any issue or motion as described above.

c. Members in good standing may be elected to any office for which they are eligible.

3. Members can expect to be provided with any and all information, relevant or irrelevant, by all collective institutions within Electric City Socialists. All collectives are expected to make a good faith effort to provide as much information as possible about meeting times, minutes etc.

4. Members are allowed to join any collective which receives resources from Electric City Socialists. Members may be denied membership in an AG (Autonomous Group) if they are unable or unwilling to abide by the AG's bylaws. Participation may also be limited due to logistical issues, e.g. too many people.

a. This does not apply to Affinity Groups, which are not allowed direct access to Electric City Socialists resources. Members can be accepted into or rejected entry from an Affinity Group at the full discretion of members of the Affinity Group in question.

b. Affinity Groups are the space for factional caucuses, as well as caucuses based on identity.

5. Any member may apply at any time to the general membership to form an Autonomous Group and apply for resources from Electric City Socialists.

6. Any member can at any time form an Affinity Group. However, there is the expectation that members will announce the formation of such an Affinity Group, and present as much information to the collective as possible.

7. Members have the right to:

a. File for recall, removal or expulsion of any officer(s) or any other member(s), as outlined above.

b. Demand a recount of a vote.

c. Request a re-vote if pertinent information was not brought up at the time of the initial vote.

d. Challenge a vote as unconstitutional.

e. File a complaint about the activities of an Autonomous Group. The Arbiters will look at the complaint, as detailed above.

6. Prospective members who are denied membership can appeal to an Arbiter.

7. Members may appeal any decision to an Arbiter.

8. Members have the right to be educated in the principles and practices of Electric City Socialists. Members have the right to be fully informed of their rights and responsibilities as members, collective expectations for their behavior, and the duties of the collective.

9. Furthermore, members can expect that they will have access to whatever training that the organization has the resources to provide, be it technical training, leadership, mentoring, etc.

10. Electric City Socialists exists in order to create a better world, and members should expect their involvement to make them better off materially, ethically, and emotionally.

a. Members' labor will not be exploited.

b. Members have the right not to be harassed or pressured.

c. Members' monetary contributions will be used in accordance with the Constitution.

11. Electric City Socialists recognizes that members may demand the codification of additional rights into the Constitution.

12. Any perceived violation of any of these rights may be brought before the Appeals & Grievances Committee, and investigated, as above.

13. We take it as a point of principle that people should be able to be involved in decision making and work regardless of space or distance.

14. Members may also join and retain membership rights in other political organizations, provided that this is done in an open and transparent way, and that the values of the organization in question do not fundamentally contradict the values of Electric City Socialists. Regardless of additional affiliations, all members are expected to uphold the responsibilities toward the collective.

C. Responsibilities of members and duties of the collective.

1. Abide by the values and guidelines of the organization. Prospective members must affirm their commitment to the Statement of Principles, and agree to abide by the guidelines set forth in the Constitution.

2. Dues

a. Dues will be used to generate revenue for general operations (flyers, paper, printer cartridges, etc). It will also be used to fund our projects. The organization will set priorities for spending, in what proportion, etc.

b. Dues are to be assessed at $5 per quarter ($20 annually). If for any reason a member cannot pay the assessed amount, they can request sponsorship by another member. Members will be considered in good standing for one full quarter after they have last paid dues.

c. Dues can be paid in advance for an entire year, or quarterly. d. Extra donations above regular dues are appreciated by the organization but not required, and do not confer any extra privileges or rights

e. Open books of finances will be available to all organization members at any time.

f. Voting on group policy and decisions will be contingent on being in good standing with the organization vis-a-vis the above membership requirements. Folks who do not want to contribute either time or money can be involved, but will not have voting privileges.

3. All members are expected to contribute to bettering the organization to the best of their abilities.

Article IV - The Structure of democratic decision-making.

A. Agendas

1. The General Assembly will elect a Secretary for the Membership and Administration Committee. The Membership and Administration Committee is tasked with gathering agenda items and writing agendas for general membership, General Assembly, and Executive Committee meetings. Any member may add an item to the agenda.

2. The Membership and Administration Committee is tasked with writing agendas for General Assembly meetings. The Executive Committee must approve all General Assembly agendas. Any member in good standing can add an item to the agenda, by contacting the Membership and Administration Committee.

3. The group meeting must approve or reject the agenda at the beginning of the meeting.

B. Minutes

1. A Recording Secretary will be chosen before any meeting to take minutes of the meeting. The body must approve the minutes of the prior meeting at the beginning of every current meeting. Minutes will be made available to all members.

C. Voting procedures

1. Any vote by the general membership will pass with 50% + 1 of votes cast. If amember does not wish to vote they may abstain.

2. A request to fund a new project must be tabled for one meeting, unless a 2/3 majority vote is held, in which case funds can be dispersed to said project immediately.

3. Members have all democratic rights enumerated in Article III.B, including the right to call for a secret ballot on any measure.

Conclusion We do not know the future. We admit our own ignorance. We place our hope in the transformative power of work and in the guiding principle of democracy. We take courage from the great acts of humanity, from our liberatory traditions, and from the capacity for creativity and decency which all human beings possess. We agree to abide by this Constitution as we work toward the transformation of our society.