What happened at the 2023 Twin Cities DSA Convention?




The Twin Cities DSA convention of 2023 was the first one to be held in two parts. It also set a record for the number of resolutions and bylaw amendments to be considered. Although the meeting fell short of the required 10% quorum, it was very close, so overall well-attended by current standards. 

The main convention meeting was held Saturday, September 30, in hybrid mode. The in-person part of the meeting happened at the Ramsey County Library in Roseville, MN, a popular venue for our chapter meetings, and ran from 2:00 pm to 4:45 pm, while the virtual segment ran in the same timeframe on the chapter Zoom account. The virtual-only segment was on Zoom, Sunday October 1, from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm. So that’s a total of five hours and 15 minutes of convention, not even counting the social component at Urban Growler on Saturday. 

The Zoom participants’ view was recorded and can be viewed on the chapter YouTube channel if you received the link in your inbox. (If you did not receive the link, and think you should have, email operations@twincitiesdsa.org to request it.) 

The convention Part I was called to order by At-large Steering Committee member Clare D. at a few minutes past 2:00 pm. At the peak of attendance, there were about 86 attendees in person and an additional 20 on Zoom, which was just a little shy of the required 116 for quorum. This was constitutionally acceptable as only procedural motions necessary to do vital business and control discussion could be considered. All votes that affect the entire chapter (and not just the meeting in progress) were done asynchronously via OpaVote. Participation in the voting must achieve quorum, and the good news is that when voting closed Friday night, 163 members had voted, which is well beyond quorum. 

A narrowing process was used to whittle down the number of resolutions and bylaw amendment motions presented in the month preceding the convention, which required an “endorsing” signature from at least 1% of the membership of Twin Cities DSA. Altogether, six resolutions and seven bylaw amendments made it to the convention day for discussion, as well as one amendment to a proposed resolution. One of the resolutions was withdrawn by the author just before the convention. 

On Saturday, after introductory business and reports from officers and committees, the discussion began. Each proposed amendment or resolution was introduced by the “motivator” (a word chosen to refer to the author of the motion) or their proxy if they were absent, which counted as the first speech in favor. These were followed by a speech against, and then up to two more exchanges of for and against if there were more who wished to speak.

About halfway through the day’s allotment of discussion items, the body took a short rest break and then heard from a guest speaker and two guest delegations. The first speaker was Jon Melrod, author of a book called Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War (2022). He spoke about his own history as a factory worker at American Motors (AMC), the defunct former fourth largest automotive corporation, and put this into context both historical and immediate as far as the current surge in unionism and working class consciousness. A small group of UAW brothers and sisters came with him to hear him speak to our meeting. 

The next speakers, two local IAM organizers from the Delta Airlines struggle, were introduced by co-chair Kip H, who previously worked as a Delta baggage handler with one of the two, Amanda, and has known her for 30 years. Pat spoke first and he made reference to how valuable the consistent support from Twin Cities DSA has been, even moving one IAM organizer to tears because he was so unused to outside organizations showing solidarity. Pat had very encouraging words about the progress of organizing Delta baggage handlers, saying the tide was turning in their favor. Amanda followed up, first saying thanks to Kip for encouraging her to get involved in the struggle and saying he was why she was in it today. Then she appealed to our chapter for help in the local struggle, specifically mentioning needing boosts to their social media and also volunteers for door knocking. 

Finally the body heard from a small delegation of UAW activists from Local 125, starting with and introduced by Twin Cities DSA member and Labor Steering Committee member Janette C. Alex spoke next, thanking the chapter for its support of the strike. He also referred back to Jon Melrod’s speech and said how telling it was that Melrod’s struggles in the 1980s and their struggles today were so much the same, and so indicative of how corporate treatment of workers and unions has been either stagnant or actually gone backward in the intervening 40+ years. 

The next speaker was John, someone who had been on the line for 26 years, and he contrasted how there is a big divide between long-term workers like himself, and those hired after 2008. “When I started, working for The Big Three was a career.” Then he made an appeal on behalf of Local 125 for help in blocking access to a hiring event being held by Penske, the non-union company that shares a warehouse with their employer in New Hope. Alex returned to cap the section by talking about the UAW wheel, and the solidarity that image represents, before thanking TCDSA members once more. The body chanted “U-A-W” a few times as the speaker segment ended on a high note. 

Discussion then resumed with the remaining resolutions, starting with the amendment to Resolution 4, “True North, 2.0” and its proposed amendment. The rules of the convention specified that any resolutions or amendments not covered in the time allotted on Saturday would be deferred to the general member meeting in November. But at around 4:30 pm, with the library venue closing at 5:00 pm, it was moved, seconded to suspend the rules and take up the remaining resolutions the next day on the Sunday Zoom portion, as many as could be addressed without adding extra time on Sunday. This was approved by a ⅔ super-majority as required for suspending the rules. 

The meeting was adjourned at about 4:40 pm after singing one verse of Solidarity Forever,  leaving ample time to pack up supplies and put the room back in order. A social at Urban Growler Brewery in St. Anthony Park, St. Paul followed the meeting starting a little after 5:00 pm. 

Sunday’s Zoom-only meeting was taken up by three major items of business: 

  • A reportback on the DSA National Convention in August
  • Candidates for Twin Cities DSA offices, allowing nominations from the floor, and then brief speeches by each candidate or a surrogate
  • Completion, time permitting, of the discussion on remaining resolutions and bylaw amendments 

It was again chaired by Clare D, with a motion being made (passed) to appoint her as chair for the convention. 

Bree, Tim H, Cynthia S. and Sam D., delegates to the DSA convention in early August in Chicago, each gave a short reportback on their impressions and activities at the convention. 

The candidates were presented in the order listed in the agenda, with the presenter first calling for nominations from the floor at the beginning of each position. However, there were no nominations from the floor, and many of the positions were uncontested, so this segment did not take very long. 

Ultimately only one additional proposal was able to be debated during this zoom call, as the remaining three bylaws amendments lacked a motivator to speak in favor of them. These were tabled and will be considered eligible to be debated at the next general meeting. OpaVote ballots were sent out on Monday and balloting closed at midnight on Friday, October 6. Results were posted in Slack, so check there if you are on Slack. They will also be posted on the TCDSA website soon. 

From Deb K. R.

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