Constitution

Article I – Statement of Values

Our organization is united around certain core values. These inform and direct our actions, strategies and goals. Our principles are as follows:

Socialism – For democracy and cooperation in all aspects of society

As revolutionary socialists capitalism is incompatible with our values. Working people have a material interest in displacing the existing social order in favor of a new humane and democratic type of society.

Self Determination and Human Dignity — Individual Autonomy, Mutual Respect

Every person, by virtue of their humanity, has the right to live life as they choose and have the resources by which to do so, as long as their actions don’t encroach on the ability of others to do the same.

Participatory Democracy — Everyone decides

Democracy is a fundamental desire of all people. Democracy is a process and a set of institutions which rests on this foundation of individual and collective rights and liberties. Disagreement is a fundamental right, and a social good.

Collective Liberation and Solidarity – None of us are free, until we are all free

We are a feminist, anti-racist, anti-imperialist organization that stands with and fights alongside the Black Lives Matter movement and all those struggling against oppressions, as yet named and unnamed, that impede the realization of our collective human potential.

We take it as our task to work toward the enactment and elaboration of these values for the good of all.

Article II – Structure

A. The name of the organization is Kentucky Workers League (or KWL).

B. Free association and voluntary collective discipline.

  1. Kentucky Workers League 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. Individuals in the collective may have relationships with other legal entities, but the organization as a whole does not.
  2. 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. Failure to implement decisions in the manner listed below (see Section II.J) will result in the severance of ties between the member in question and the organization, i.e. all individuals implementing a decision to freely disassociate with said member.
    1. This principle is not enforced by legal means, but rather by the means of free association.

C. The General Assembly

  1. The General Assembly is the monthly gathering of all members and is responsible for determining organizational policy, and tracking the progress of the movement as a whole.
  2. The powers of the General Assembly are as follows:
    1. Determine organizational goals and strategies in keeping with the principles established by the Constitution.
    2. Approve or reject budgets, i.e. allocate funding and revenues from all Committees and Autonomous Projects (CAPs). This includes line item veto power.
    3. Hear report-backs from CAPs.
    4. Make announcements concerning CAP events, decisions, etc.
    5. Approve or reject the establishment of a new major project or campaign.
    6. Amend the Constitution.
  3. Quorum for the General Assembly to make binding decisions shall be fifty percent plus one (50%+1) of the dues-paying membership in good standing.
  4. If the General Assembly has quorum, binding decisions shall be made by a fifty percent plus one (50%+1) majority vote of the present dues-paying members in good standing, excluding abstentions, unless the decision is to amend the Constitution which shall require a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote, excluding abstentions.
  5. Voting procedure shall be as follows: thumbs up indicates in favor, sideways thumb indicates a desire for more discussion, and thumbs down indicates opposition. Abstention shall be indicated by not voting.
  6. Absent dues-paying members in good standing shall be allowed to communicate a vote on a particular question in advance of the meeting by contacting the Arbiter or Central Committee.
  7. The administration of the General Assembly shall include the taking of weighted stack to determine speaking order. That is, the individual responsible for taking stack shall take into account factors such as how often comrades have spoken, if they belong to any oppressed group, and any other relevant factor such as but not limited to whether they are shy or new to the group in determining in what order comrades may speak.
  8. During any icebreaker or introduction, comrades present at the General Assembly will be encouraged to share their preferred pronouns (they/them/their etc.).
  9. To facilitate communication, comrades at the General Assembly will be encouraged to use hand signals such as raising their hand to be added to stack, sparkle fingers for approval, and pointy fingers for direct response. These signals shall be explained at the beginning of each General Assembly.
  10. In addition to the monthly, regular General Assembly, an emergency General Assembly may be called in one (1) of two (2) ways:
    1. Via a four-fifths (4/5) majority vote of the Central Committee; or
    2. By any twelve (12) dues-paying members in good standing who may include members of the Central Committee. In this event, signatures will be presented to an Arbiter. The Arbiters will be responsible for chairing the subsequent General Assembly.

D. The Central Committee

  1. The Central Committee is the executive body elected and empowered by the organization to make decisions based along organizational policy lines in between General Assembly meetings or constitutional conventions. The committee is understood to provide leadership to the General Assembly, although the General Assembly retains final authority over the committee. The General Assembly retains legislative power and sets organizational policy; its day-to-day implementation is executed via the Central Committee. This committee includes five (5) at-large members with voting powers and one (1) alternate member who may only obtain voting powers due to a long term absence or withdrawal from the Central Committee by one of the at-large members. No fewer than (2) two of the at-large members must be members of oppressed groups. Central Committee positions are positions of responsibility, not positions of power.
  2. All Central Committee members are responsible for the financial health of the organization and are expected to participate in budgeting and fundraising.
  3. As elected representatives of the organization, Central 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.  In pursuit of embodying our organizational value of Collective Liberation and Solidarity, at-large members and the alternate member are required to participate in at least one (1) anti-oppression training.
  4. The Central Committee shall be responsible for ensuring that child care is provided if requested for General Assemblies.
  5. The Central Committee shall be responsible for ensuring that the organization hosts at least one (1) social event each month.  Going out for drinks after a General Assembly shall not constitute a social event.
  6. In between General Assemblies, the Central Committee shall control dispersal of funds, press communications, and public statements of the organization. The Central Committee shall control keys to the office, external and internal contact lists, and any other important administrative materials. Each at-large member shall be an administrator of any social media account.
  7. As leaders it shall be the responsibility of the Central Committee to develop the leadership capacity of others. In short, members of the Central Committee shall always in the process of developing and organizing their replacements.
  8. Individuals will be elected to the Central Committee for a term of six (6) months at a General Assembly.  Open nominations will be made from the floor. Individuals may nominate themselves. Once candidates are nominated, a secret ballot will be taken. Each member of the organization may vote for up to five (5) candidates. The recipients of the five (5) highest vote totals shall be elected at-large members of the Central Committee and the recipient of the sixth highest vote total shall be elected the alternate member unless the membership failed to elect no fewer than two (2) at-large members from oppressed groups. In the event that the membership failed to elect no fewer than two (2) at-large members from oppressed groups, the election process starts over again and is repeated until no fewer than (2) at-large members from oppressed groups are elected.
  9. If at any point an at-large member cannot continue in their job duties they must notify the organization as soon as possible. All information, documents, and property related to the position must be turned over to the organization and the alternate member shall take their place.
  10. If at any time the ability of a central committee member comes into question the central committee member can be recalled from their position following a majority vote of dues-paying members in good standing.
  11. Decisions made by the Central Committee must be approved by at least four (4) at-large members.
  12. Any or all Central Committee members can be recalled from their positions, for any reason at the behest of the General Assembly, in the manner listed in Section II.H.
  13. ONLY at-large members may vote on Central Committee matters, however, all meetings of the Central Committee are open to attendance by any member of Kentucky Workers League, and all meeting minutes will be made available to the organization.
  14. At the discretion of the Central Committee, a four-fifths (4/5) majority vote will succeed in approving funding for a project or committee, including stipends, to the project leaders. This vote is binding unless overturned by the General Assembly.
  15. The Central Committee may call an emergency General Assembly at any time.  If the Central Committee chooses to exercise this power, it must notify or have notified the membership of the organization via a phone tree and other reliable methods.

E. Arbiters and Ad Hoc Grievances Committees

  1. The General Assembly will elect two members – Arbiters – to be responsible for accepting formal complaints (grievances), handling appeals, hearing informal complaints, and in general striving to create within Kentucky Workers League an anti-oppressive, safe atmosphere. These individuals shall not be members of the Central Committee, nor the head of any project or other committee.
  2. Any member of the General Assembly, or any committee or project, can approach one or more Arbiters at any time to help resolve an interpersonal conflict with any other member of Kentucky Workers League.
    1. 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 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).
  4. After receiving a grievance, both Arbiters will then form an ad hoc Grievances Committee composed of five (5) randomly-selected members of Kentucky Workers League. 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:
    1. Determine the grievance has no merit. In this case the matter will be considered closed, unless the complainant wishes to appeal.
    2. Determine if the grievance has merit. If so they may pass the case on to the General Assembly 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.

F. Committees and Autonomous Projects

  1. Committees and Autonomous Projects (CAPs) are the lifeblood of the organization. Our projects are how we relate to the masses.
  2. Any five (5) dues-paying members of Kentucky Workers League in good standing may form a Committee or Autonomous Project.
  3. CAPs must follow the Constitution of Kentucky Workers League. However, CAPs are free to run their projects and campaigns in whatever democratic manner they see fit, within the purview, scope, and values dictated by the General Assembly.
  4. A major project or campaign is any undertaking that is reasonably expected to require the expenditure of comrades’ time and resources for more than a month.
  5. In order to initiate a new major project or campaign, CAPs must petition the General Assembly.  A new major project or campaign must have five (5) dues-paying members of Kentucky Workers League in good standing willing to commit their time and resources to it, including one (1) democratically-selected project leader who is ultimately responsible for the project or campaign and for reporting its progress to the General Assembly and Central Committee.
  6. Funding for CAPs’ work may come from two (2) sources:
    1. CAPs may autonomously raise funds to support their work. If any CAP is still in possession of funds raised in this manner at the dissolution of a committee or end of an autonomous project, those funds shall be contributed to the sister organization as defined in Article II.I.
    2. CAPs may petition the General Assembly or the Central Committee for funding.

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. Maoists, anarchists), identity (e.g. women’s caucus, people of color caucus), or common interests (e.g. cooking club, lockbox collective).
  2. Affinity Groups do not have control over Kentucky Workers League resources, though they may organize to push resources to one or another project, or push to start new CAPs, etc.
  3. Members of Affinity Groups are encouraged to notify all members of Kentucky Workers League 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. 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.E above. The General Assembly is free to determine the process of sanctioning using the guidelines enumerated below.
  2. An ad hoc Grievances Committee can institute a sanction. Any member or group can be sanctioned.
  3. Sanctions against individuals function in the following ways:
    1. Restorative Justice- If a form of restorative justice can be agreed upon by the individuals involved, facilitated by the arbiter, Grievances Committee, or General Assembly, then the matter shall be considered closed.
    2. 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.
    3. Removal – Removal removes the person from a group.
    4. Expulsion – Expulsion means the person is kicked out of the organization. Expulsions can only be decided by the General Assembly. This is only done if someone has undertaken a serious breach of the organization’s values.
      1. Serious breach of organizational values includes, but is not limited to, the following:
        1. Taking bribes or corruption.
        2. Financial chicanery for personal gain.
        3. Engaging in espionage against the group.
        4. Practicing harassment or bullying based on, though not limited to, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religious affiliation.
        5. Undermining in a serious way the trust of the masses in the organization.
      2. Serious breach of organizational values is not meant not include any of the following:
        1. Publicly or privately expressing disagreement or dissatisfaction with the organization, organizational direction, or leadership
        2. Advocating any given political line, tactic, policy, or strategy
  4. An Autonomous Group can be sanctioned. Sanctions against groups function in the following ways:
    1. Recall of any or all officers or members (to be replaced by sortition or election, as per the particular CAP)
    2. Individual members can be sanctioned (as above per above)
    3. A particular CAP can be disbanded.
  5. 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 CAPs facing disbandment are given one appeal.
  6. Assistance should be given to help comrades overcome weaknesses and shortcomings, when possible. A deep sense of solidarity and understanding should undergird all actions.

I. Relationship between Kentucky Workers League and sister organizations

  1. The Central Committee is under obligation, based on the principle of free association (see Section II.B), to incorporate and elect themselves and themselves alone to the Executive Board of Kentucky Friends of Socialism.
    1. Any Central Committee member who does not relinquish membership (upon a vote by the General Assembly, as per Section II.H) on the Executive Board of Kentucky Friends of Socialism will be subject to immediate disassociation by the collective.
  2. Committees and Autonomous Projects that wish to incorporate separately are free to do so, in line with the protocols elaborated in this Constitution.
    1. In the event that a project decides to incorporate, members of a CAP are under obligation, based on the principle of free association (see Section II.B), to elect themselves and themselves alone to the Executive Board of the incorporated project.
    2. Members of a CAP who do not relinquish membership (upon a vote by the General Assembly, as per Section II.H) in the Executive Board of an incorporated project will be subject to immediate disassociation by the collective.

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

A. Membership qualifications

  1. Kentucky Workers League seeks to end all forms of oppression. Membership is open to all persons. Kentucky Workers League 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 by the General Assembly.
  3. Prospective members are expected to adhere to the constitution, follow the values of the Kentucky Workers League, and sign a membership card expressing this conviction.
  4. In addition, members are expected to pay regular minimum dues of five dollars a month ($5/mo).
  5. Members in good standing are expected to volunteer for the organization regularly, with a recommendation of two hours per month to be accounted annually. Attendance at meetings, socials, political education events, or leadership development events do not count toward this minimum, unless the member is filling some support role during that period, such as cooking or taking care of children.
    1. There are a number of ways a member can fulfill their volunteer requirements, most prominently by being a part of a project. Additionally, flyering, being part of the phone bank, translating, and other activities count toward the requirement.
    2. Volunteer hours are to be tracked by the member. If another member feels that someone is not fulfilling their volunteer requirement, they may request a sanction against the member in question by contacting an arbiter in the manner detailed in II.H.

B. Rights of members and expectations of the collective.

  1. Kentucky Workers League 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 a member of – Congress, General Assembly, Committee, Autonomous Project or Affinity Group.
    1. Kentucky Workers League functions on the principle of One Person One Vote.
    2. Any member may move at any time for a secret ballot on any issue or motion as described above.
    3. 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 Kentucky Workers League. 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 Kentucky Workers League. Members may be denied membership in a CAP if they are unable or unwilling to abide by the CAP’s bylaws. Participation may also be limited due to logistical issues, e.g. too many people.
    1. This does not apply to Affinity Groups, which are not allowed direct access to Kentucky Workers League 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.
    2. Affinity Groups are the space for factional caucuses, as well as caucuses based on identity.
  5. Any five (5) members may apply at any time to the General Assembly to form a CAP and apply for resources from Kentucky Workers League.
  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 file for recall, impeachment or expulsion of any officer(s) or any other member(s), as outlined above.
  8. Members’ rights also include but are not limited to:
    1. Demanding a recount of a vote.
    2. Requesting a re-vote if pertinent information was not brought up at the time of the initial vote.
    3. Challenging a vote as unconstitutional.
    4. Filing a complaint about the activities of a CAP. The Arbiters will look at the complaint, as detailed above.
    5. Appeal any decision to an Arbiter
  9. Prospective members who are denied membership can appeal to an Arbiter
  10. Members have the right to be educated in the principles and practices of Kentucky Workers League. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Kentucky Workers League exists in order to create a better world, and members should expect their involvement to make them better off materially, ethically, and emotionally.
    1. Members’ labor will not be exploited.
    2. Members have the right not to be harassed or pressured.
    3. Members’ monetary contributions will be used in accordance with the Constitution.
  13. Kentucky Workers League recognizes that members may demand the codification of additional rights into the Constitution.
  14. Any perceived violation of any of these rights may be brought before the Appeals & Grievances Committee, and investigated, as above.
  15. 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.
  16. 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 Kentucky Workers League. Regardless of additional affiliations, all members are expected to uphold the responsibilities toward the collective listed below in III.C.

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 Values, and agree to abide by the guidelines set forth in the Constitution.
  2. Dues.
    1. Members of the organization are expected to contribute regularly to the sister organization Kentucky Friends of Socialism.
      1. Individuals can contribute to Kentucky Friends of Socialism and not be members of Kentucky Workers League.
      2. Regular contributions of Kentucky Workers League members to the sister organization Kentucky Friends of Socialism will be referred to as dues.
    2. 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.
    3. Dues are to be assessed at $5 per month. If for any reason a member cannot pay the assessed amount, they are expected to pay $1 or more per month. The remainder will be complemented from solidarity sponsorships paid by other members.
    4. Dues can be paid in advance for an entire year, or monthly.
    5. Middle class workers and individuals from financially privileged backgrounds should expect to contribute proportionally more to the organization than poor and working class people. If an individual makes over $40K/year they should seriously consider donating $1000/year to the movement.
    6. Open books of finances will be available to all organization members.
    7. The Central Committee will be accountable to the movement and will be elected by the group. The Central Committee will be tasked with collecting dues and dispersing money in line with organizational directives and on organizational projects.
    8. 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. Members are responsible for keeping track of the hours they contribute to the organization.
  4. All members are expected to contribute to bettering the organization to the best of their abilities.

Article IV – National outlook and regional affiliation

  1. Building a mass based socialist party over 40 years

    1. Kentucky Workers League has a long term commitment to building a new socialist party in the United States, independent of the two dominant bourgeois parties. In seeking to further this goal, the Central Committee is tasked with building formal ties with like-minded Red collectives directly engaged in work among the masses.
      1. Some examples of such Red collectives include but are not limited to Philly Socialists and Louisville Socialists.
  1. Left Unity

    1. Kentucky Workers League is not in competition with other Red organizations or non-Red activist groups.  While Kentucky Workers League will follow the policy laid out in this Constitution and dictated by the General Assembly, comrades uninterested in that policy should be encouraged to pursue the political work and organizational affiliations they’re most attracted to. Let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend.
    2. The Central Committee is encouraged to maintain lines of communication with other Red organizations active in the region including but not limited to the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, the Lindsey Wilson College Young Democratic Socialists, and Students for Appalachian Socialism.
    3. The Central Committee may at its discretion open and maintain communications with other Red organizations outside of the region.
    4. Members of Kentucky Workers League are called upon to maintain a comradely manner toward other Red and progressive forces.
  1. Affiliation with Mid-Atlantic Appalachian Regional Committee of Socialists (or MAARCS).

    1. MAARCS is a regional body formed by the Philly Socialists for like-minded Red collectives to share skills and information.
    2. Kentucky Workers League shall affiliate with and participate in MAARCS and any successor informational body.
    3. At the discretion of the General Assembly, Kentucky Workers League’s participation in MAARCS shall include but not be limited to
      1. Planning and contributing resources to retreats focused on the development of leadership skills of individual activists and a higher level of political coordination among MAARCS member organizations.
      2. Participating in common political projects on the regional and/or national level with other MAARCS member organizations.
      3. Developing regional and/or national Red political infrastructure common to other MAARCS member organizations, so long as such infrastructure is democratic in form and accountable to MAARCS member organizations and their memberships.

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.

 

Last updated 6/17/15