Solidarity Constitution

This constitution was amended by the 1989 SOLIDARITY convention. The previous constitution, provisionally adopted at the 1987 convention, lacked provisions for the methods governing leadership selection. The 1989 convention adopted amendments outlining these methods, which are contained in Article VII.

Article I. Name

The name of this organization shall be SOLIDARITY.

Article II. Membership

All individuals who are in general agreement with the political principles and meet other requirements of this constitution are eligible for membership in SOLIDARITY.

SOLIDARITY is an activist organization. Its members are expected to actively participate in political and social struggles as well as in the activities of SOLIDARITY itself. Except in cases of financial hardship, members are required to pay dues set by the organization.

A branch may accept into membership by majority vote any applicant meeting the requirements herein. In the event that a branch refuses membership, the applicant may appeal to the National Committee (NC). Individuals who live in an area in which Solidarity does not have a branch may be accepted into membership by the Political Committee (PC).

Members of other national organizations seeking membership in SOLIDARITY under exceptional circumstances may maintain a dual membership through the approval of a meeting of the NC. The status of sympathizer is also available to dual members and outlined below.

Members who are unable to maintain regular political activity for periods of time may apply to the branch for a leave of absence. Members on leave of absence are not entitled to vote at membership meetings but retain speaking rights. Members on leave of absence must still coordinate their political activities through SOLIDARITY. Members on leave of absence will work out an arrangement for continued financial contribution with the branch executive committee or National Committee as appropriate.

Article III. Sympathizers

Individuals may become sympathizers of SOLIDARITY by paying a special dues rate established by the NC. Sympathizers will receive membership discussion materials and may be present at regular membership meetings but may not vote or publicly represent the organization. Sympathizers may belong to other socialist organizations. Individuals who misuse information gained through sympathizer’s status may have that status revoked by the NC.

Article IV. National Convention

The highest national body of the organization is the National Convention, which establishes policy, reviews the work of the National Committee and elects its members. A convention will be called on a yearly basis, but in no case later than every eighteen months. A vote of one-third of the National Committee or 25% of the organized members of the branches may call a convention at an earlier time.

All members may attend the National Convention. The National Committee shall determine the voting and representation procedures used at the convention. With a delegated convention, the NC shall determine the delegate-membership ratio. At a delegated convention, branch delegates will cast a number of votes equal to the number of members represented.

Members-at-large may each cast one vote. Each branch and organizing committee shall be entitled to at least one delegate. Branches may elect, as delegates, members of SOLIDARITY who are not members of that branch. The NC will develop a convention assessment plan to cover travel expenses for delegates.

Article V. National Committee

The National Committee consisting of full and alternate members shall be elected by the National Convention. When a full member is unable to take part in a meeting of the NC, he or she shall choose a replacement from among the alternates. In continuing the process of socialist regroupment, the NC is empowered to coopt new members who represent a geographic or political expansion of the organization.

The NC will meet 2-3 times per year. Its meetings are normally open to all members and sympathizers. The NC may go into executive session to discuss matters of security and personnel by a vote of two-thirds of its members.

The responsibilities of the NC include:

  • Set political policies for the organization as a whole within the guidelines of positions adopted by the membership in convention.
  • Discuss and launch national campaigns.
  • Set the budget for the national organization.
  • Oversee the work of the Political Committee.
  • Oversee the work of Commissions.
  • Discuss political work with Work Groups.
  • Discuss priorities and local activities with branches.
  • Organize major political discussions and debates in the organization.

Minutes of NC meetings, including majority- minority reports, will be published in the Internal Bulletin and be made available to all members.

Article VI. Political Committee

The Political Committee shall implement and follow up on policies, decisions, motions and resolutions made by the convention and National Committee. The PC shall monitor, develop and evaluate the organizational infrastructure of SOLIDARITY such as staff, finances, publications, and national education programs (within the guidelines and policies set by the constitution, convention, and NC).

The PC shall initiate and organize political discussions of key issues and practice facing the organization. This includes organizing the drafting of documents for National Committee and convention discussions as well as for general discussion within the organization. The PC, in consultation and political exchange with branch executive committees, shall assist in the shaping of political perspectives and work of the branches. Minutes of PC meetings, including majority/ minority reports, shall be published and made available to all members.

Article VII. Election of National Leadership Bodies

The SOLIDARITY national conventions will elect a National Committee to act as the leading body of the organization between conventions. The outgoing National Committee will be expected to nominate a list for the incoming National Committee two months prior to the convention. The outgoing NC may designate a commission to develop this list of nominees.

The nominating process is completely open: any member or group of members within the organization may present nominations for the NC at any time up to the vote at the convention. Nominations to the Nominating Committee should come from branches, work fractions and commissions, and the Nominating Committee should consider these nominations in negotiating and adopting its slate. Political tendencies will have the right of division and proportional representation if they so choose.

The convention of SOLIDARITY will elect the Political Committee. Between conventions, the NC will have the power to change the composition of the PC as circumstances may require.

In addition to a slate of delegates and alternates to the National Committee, the Nominating Committee will nominate a slate of delegates to the Political Committee. The National Committee will, in its direction to the Nominating Committee, indicate a size and other priorities for the composition of the Political Committee.

These guiding motions will be circulated to the membership. The Political Committee slate shall be made available to the membership in the same manner as now specified for the National Committee slate.

Article VIII. Staff

The national staff of SOLIDARITY is responsible for implementing the decisions of the National Convention, National Committee, and Political Committee, maintaining organizational cohesion, unity and the integrity of SOLIDARITY and taking such initiatives as necessary within guidelines already clearly established in votes or resolutions by representative bodies of SOLIDARITY. Staff time and organizational resources are to be used for carrying out organizational decisions in a nonpartisan way.

At least one month prior to hiring a staff member, the PC will notify branches, NC members and members-at-large of the job description including responsibilities, pay, and benefits and invite applications or suggestions.

The staff shall be hired by, take assignments from, and be responsible to the Political Committee. Decisions are subject to review by higher bodies. The PC will work with the staff to develop job descriptions to ensure an efficient division of labor. Staff members will serve until they resign or are removed by the PC, NC or Convention.

Article IX. Organization

Branches will be the basic organizational unit of the group. Functioning within the framework of decisions made by the Convention and the National Committee, branches will be self- governing.

Work Groups may be established by the Convention, National Committee or Political Committee to coordinate and strengthen work in areas where several members are active.

Commissions may be established by the Convention or National Committee to coordinate work of high priority, investigate new areas of work, or develop proposals for action or positions.

Article X. Equality

SOLIDARITY is committed to achieving sexual parity and adequate representation of national minorities and working people at all levels of the organization, and to developing the full participation and leadership of all its members. SOLIDARITY provides organizational procedures and support to achieve these goals.

The formation of women’s caucuses, lesbian and gay caucuses, and caucuses of national minorities at the branch and national level where members feel they are necessary will be encouraged and given organizational support and time.

All regularly scheduled meetings of the organization will make available quality childcare for children of members and invited guests.

All members regardless of length of membership in Solidarity or any predecessor organization, nature of employment, or area of political activity, shall have full and equal rights.

Article XI. Dues

The National Committee shall have the power to set national dues. Branches shall be responsible for the national dues of their members.

Local branches and districts may assess such additional dues as deemed necessary.

The NC may set special assessments and organize special fund drives.

All dues structures will have provision for economic hardship.

Failure to pay dues for a continuous period of 3 months will result in the loss of the right to vote. Failure to pay dues for a continuous period of one year will result in forfeiture of membership in the organization.

Article XII. Referenda

Motions, proposed constitutional amendments or resolutions to be voted on by referendum shall be submitted to the membership upon request of 1/3 of the National Committee or 25% of the membership of the organized branches.

The vote on each referendum shall close 30 days after submission to the membership including arguments on all sides. Voting of branch members and members-at-large residing within 50 miles of branches will be done at branch meetings. Other members-at-large may vote by mail. A majority vote of those voting (not including abstentions) shall determine the result except that no referendum shall be valid unless 1/3 of the membership in good standing votes.

Article XIII. Membership Rights

The Political Committee will oversee the production of a year-round newsletter/discussion bulletin, open to members, sympathizers and close friends of the organization. Reasonable length limits and technical and security guidelines may be established by the PC. All political discussion material preparatory to any meeting of the National Committee will be circulated through the internal bulletin to members.

While discussion documents will normally be distributed through the national bulletin to ensure that all members receive them, members or groupings collaborating on developing ideas may circulate materials among themselves.

There shall be no secret balloting on any committee of SOLIDARITY. All votes shall be recorded and minutes of meetings except those in executive session shall be available to all members who request them.

All meetings of the NC are open to all members except when it votes by 2/3 to go into executive session for security and personnel matters.

The rights of the majority shall be protected: Once the organization has discussed an issue and taken a position, then that position must be presented as the position of the organization. If a member disagrees with a decision of the organization, she/ he may abstain from activity on that question.

No votes, substantive or procedural, shall require more than a simple majority of those voting (not including abstentions) for determination except for those specified in this Constitution.

The rights of minorities shall be protected:

  • There shall be no restrictions on the formation of caucuses within the organization.
  • There shall be no restrictions on the rights of individuals or caucuses to publish their own points of view for distribution solely within the organization, except that the editorial restrictions applying to the discussion bulletin applies to all other publications.
  • Members may also publish minority political points of view in external SOLIDARITY publications except in particular cases where such publication would in a substantial, immediate and concrete way undermine the effectiveness of the organization’s action program. This decision shall be made by the appropriate group, fraction, or leading body and may be appealed to the National Committee.
  • Minorities are free to express their differences with a SOLIDARITY position outside the organization. This includes the right to publish opposition bulletins or journals. Specifically, members or caucuses may publish their own point of view in non- Solidarity publications subject to the exceptions listed in the preceding paragraph. In addition, the normal editorial considerations of balance, topicality, length, and quality prevail. Pamphlets and special supplements may be limited to a majority point of view.

No individual or branch may be suspended or expelled from membership in SOLIDARITY for political positions. The only basis for suspension or expulsion shall be political activity contrary to the decisions of the organization or actions which seriously threaten or discredit the organization.

Disciplinary proceeding against an individual must be sent in writing to the individual and notification of discipline proceedings must be sent to all branch members and the Political Committee at least two weeks prior to the general branch meeting called to act on the discipline. A member has full rights to defend herself/himself at the branch meeting. An individual may appeal disciplinary action of a branch to the National Committee.

The PC may initiate disciplinary proceedings against members-at-large or branches. The PC shall notify the individual or branch of charges and evidence and allow reasonable time to arrange for the individual or branch to be present at the NC meeting which will consider disciplinary action.

The individual or branch has full rights to defense at this meeting. In the case of disciplinary action against branches, the decision may be appealed to the National Convention. During the entire proceedings and appeal procedures, individuals and branches have full rights to the use of the discussion bulletins and other procedures for internal communication.

Minority political views shall have full rights of representation on all committees of the organization. If any political tendency believes that it is or may be unrepresented or under- represented on any committee of the organization, it is entitled, by submitting a motion or resolution as the basis for political representation, to that proportion of the seats on the committee as the proportion of those voting at the meeting where the election is carried out in favor of the motion as a basis for political representation.

Political tendencies also have the right to the procedure of political division in the election of delegates to the National Convention.

Article XIV. Amendments

Proposed amendments must be submitted for publication in a discussion bulletin at least 60 days prior to the Convention, which may adopt them by majority vote. Amendments may also be adopted through the referendum procedure described above.