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ISO rules and procedures

(Adopted at the 2014 ISO National Convention; updated with amended language passed at the 2015 National Convention.)

Preface

The International Socialist Organization (ISO) is an organization of socialists in the United States that is dedicated to the project of creating a revolutionary workers’ party as part of a worldwide movement for socialism. Its basic principles are embodied in the organization’s Where We Stand.

The ISO stands in and develops the revolutionary tradition of socialism from below. Standing as it does in this tradition, the ISO believes that the working class is the key social force in bringing about the abolition of capitalism and the socialist transformation of society. Therefore, it strives to construct a revolutionary party composed in its majority of workers. A revolutionary party is the instrument of the revolutionary struggle of the working class and bends its every effort to support and sustain that struggle.

The ISO is a disciplined, activist, democratic centralist organization. It is democratic in reaching its decisions and centralist in carrying them out. The lower bodies of the organization are subordinated to the higher bodies, and all are subordinated to the delegated convention. ISO rules are binding on all members of the organization.

 

Rules

Name

  1. The name of the organization is the International Socialist Organization (hereafter referred to as “the ISO”).

Membership

  1. A member is one who accepts the principles of the ISO  (as outlined in “Where We Stand”), accepts its rules and procedures, pays dues, and works within and under the direction of the appropriate bodies of the organization. Where possible, all members shall be members of an appropriate trade union. Every member must take and sell Socialist Worker.
  2. Applicants for membership must sign a membership form. A membership card will be issued to each member. Membership must be renewed each year.
  3. The basic unit of the ISO is the branch. Branches must be recognized by the ISO’s Steering Committee. A branch shall consist of not less than five (5) members who reside close enough to each other to meet regularly to carry out political activity.
  4. Whenever possible, every member will belong to a duly constituted branch of the ISO. In areas where no branch exists, the Steering Committee will admit applicants as members-at- large. Admissions and readmissions of individuals into ISO membership are subject to oversight by the Steering Committee, the National Committee, and the Convention. The Steering Committee must be notified of all transfers of members from one branch to another.
  5. Each member must pay monthly dues according to the dues structure set by the National Convention. Members-at-large will pay dues directly to the national center.
  6. Any member more than four (4) months in arrears in dues is no longer considered a member of the ISO.
  7. Members of groups that face special oppression or systematic discrimination may form caucuses to discuss common concerns and to formulate common positions for consideration by the broader ISO membership.
  8. Members who wish to promote a particular set of positions or perspective in the organization have the right to form or join a faction. A faction consists of a group of members who coordinate to advance their views to the national organization (or a local branch). In the interest of open dialogue and debate, a faction must make its existence known to the national organization (or the local branch in question). During its existence, the faction may publish materials in the ISO Internal Bulletin and present its views at the National Convention (and/or appropriate branch venues).

Disciplinary guidelines

  1. All ISO members are expected to adhere to principles of non-discrimination and to abide by ISO rules. The ISO is an organization of people committed to fighting collectively toward a project of socialism. Members are committed to fighting class exploitation and all forms of oppression. The ISO expects its members to comport themselves in a manner fitting of that commitment—that is, refraining from all discriminatory actions and/or language toward members and others.
  2. Whenever possible, disciplinary infractions should be handled with the aim of changing a member’s improper behavior, rather than resorting to formal disciplinary measures. Nevertheless, in some cases formal disciplinary proceedings will be necessary.
  3. Disciplinary measures can be taken by branches, the National Committee, or the Steering Committee if a member (or members) has not adhered to ISO rules or has engaged in conduct unbecoming a member (for example, violence or sexual harassment). When a member is subjected to formal disciplinary measures, this must be reported to the Steering Committee.
  4. Discriminatory harassment is prohibited. A member may be expelled, suspended, removed from a position, or censured for harassment of members of an oppressed group.
  5. A member may be disciplined for making false statements to obtain membership or engaging in financial improprieties. Any member who acts as a strikebreaker, a provocateur, or an informer may be expelled from the organization.
  6. All members facing disciplinary procedures have a right to a hearing by the appropriate body. Members must be informed of any disciplinary action being taken against them.
  7. ISO members should treat all complaints and disciplinary processes with the strictest confidentiality. Only those directly involved with the investigation of a complaint should have knowledge of the process.
  8. Complaints against an ISO member should be made within one calendar year of an alleged violation, except for complaints of sexual assault, which may be submitted at any time.
  9. Retaliation against anyone who reports an incident or brings forward any complaint is strictly prohibited, and is grounds for disciplinary action, including expulsion.
  10. In the event of a serious accusation, such as one alleging an act of violence or sexual assault, the accused is to be suspended, without presumption of guilt, until the complaint is resolved.
  11. Grievances and disciplinary measures should be handled at a branch level or may be referred to the Steering Committee. In those rare situations where branch committees, the Steering Committee, or individuals bringing a complaint feel that circumstances would prevent it from being properly heard, cases may be brought to the national Disciplinary Committee by either a branch committee, the Steering Committee, or an individual. The Disciplinary Committee has the right to refuse to hear cases it rules to be without merit.
  12. The Disciplinary Committee will consist of five people: one Steering Committee member to be chosen by the Steering Committee, and four ISO members elected by the National Convention. Four alternates for the committee will also be elected by the National Convention to serve in the event that a member of the committee recuses her/himself or is unable to serve.
  13. Members subject to disciplinary measures may appeal decisions to an Appeals Committee composed of five members: one Steering Committee member to be chosen by the Steering Committee, and four ISO members elected by the National Convention. Four alternates for the committee will also be elected by the National Convention to serve in the event that member(s) of the committee recuses her/himself or is unable to serve.
  14. Members of the Disciplinary Committee and Appeals Committee may not simultaneously sit on both committees.
  15. The disciplined member/s, aside from those expelled for being informers and provocateurs, has/have the right to respond to charges once in an internal bulletin. The Disciplinary Committee and Appeals Committee will report to the National Convention.

Leading bodies—National Convention

  1. The National Convention is the highest governing body of the organization. It shall be held once per year. The Convention sets policy for the ISO, and its decisions shall be binding on the entire membership.
  2. The National Convention is composed of branch delegates elected by majority vote in each branch. Representation at the Convention shall be proportionally based upon the dues-paying membership in good standing at the time of the Convention. The ratio of representation is set by the National Committee. The current delegate ratio is as follows: one delegate for the first five (5) dues paying members, and one delegate for every eight (8) members thereafter. Stated numerically, branches would receive one delegate for 5–12 dues-paying members, two delegates for 13–20 dues-paying members, three delegates for 21–28 dues-paying members, four delegates for 29–36 dues-paying members.
  3. The National Committee shall issue the call for the Convention at least sixty (60) days prior to the date of the Convention for discussion of convention topics in branches and among members-at-large. Internal bulletins shall be issued as needed during this preconvention discussion. Steering Committee documents shall begin appearing no later than two (2) weeks prior to the Convention. The Steering Committee has the right to invite nonvoting observers to the Convention.
  4. The Convention will select a convention steering committee to seat delegates and to handle questions of procedure during the course of convention. A quorum, consisting of a majority of the total number of delegates allotted to the branches, must be present to conduct Convention business. All resolutions and elections at the Convention will be settled by majority vote. Abstaining and absent delegates are not counted when determining a majority. The national Steering Committee will report convention decisions and votes to the membership no later than sixty (60) days after the Convention ends.
  5. The Convention elects the Steering Committee, the National Committee, and the at-large and alternate members of the Disciplinary and Appeals Committees. The Convention determines the manner by which it elects members of these bodies.
  6. A special convention may be called by a majority of the membership polled at branch meetings or by the annual National Convention itself. The Steering Committee, National Committee, or a single branch may begin the process by voting to call for a special convention. The Steering Committee shall report this vote, along with a brief motivation, to the membership in a timely manner. If 20 percent of the ISO’s branches vote to call for the poll within 30 days of the Steering Committee’s initial report, then a poll of the full membership to decide whether to call a special convention is mandated. Polling in the branches shall take place after the membership discusses the issues of the convention. If more than 50 percent of the members polled vote to call a special convention, the National Committee (NC) shall set an appropriate time and place to meet and shall also set the ratio of representation. Special conventions have all the powers of a regular convention.
  7. The number of delegates to which each branch is entitled for its representation to a national meeting is based upon the number of its dues-paying members as of 30 days before the national meeting is to take place. Payment must continue in the month of the national meeting for the branch to be considered in good standing.
  8. Any branch that fails to pay its share of assessments for delegates’ travel expenses to a national meeting will be considered a branch not in good standing, and its delegates will not be seated at the next national meeting. In order to ensure timely payment for delegates’ plane fares to national meetings, travel assessments are due to the national center prior to the national meeting. Thus, if a national meeting takes place on October 25, travel assessments should be included with October dues, to be paid by October 15. If the national meeting takes place on August 3, assessments should be paid along with July 2, to be paid by July 15.

Leading bodies—Steering Committee and National Committee 

  1. Between National Conventions, the authority of the Convention is vested in the Steering Committee and in the National Committee (NC). The National Committee serves as a leadership body drawn from around the country. The Steering Committee functions as the ISO’s ongoing national leadership.
  2. The National Committee shall make decisions on immediate questions and on questions tabled to it by the Convention. The Steering Committee shall report NC decisions to the membership no later than sixty (60) days after the NC Meeting.
  3. The Steering Committee directs the ISO’s work, functioning as the national authority of the ISO between Conventions and NC meetings. The Steering Committee is responsible for implementing the ISO’s perspectives and initiatives as decided by the Convention and the NC. The SC is responsible for organizing a national office, for overseeing the production of ISO literature, and for staffing the organization.

Amendments

  1. Amendments shall be made to these rules by majority vote of the National Convention.

Press

  1. All ISO publications—print and electronic—are subject to the direction of the organization and of the Steering Committee.

ISO dues structure

Monthly net income Members without children Members with children
$500–$600 $20–$25 per month $10–$25 per month
$600–$800 $25–$35 $10–$35
$800–1,000 $35–$45 $10–$45
$1,000–1,200 $45–$55 $10–$55
$1200–$1400 $55–$65 $20–$65
$1,400–$1,600 $65–$80 $20–$80
$1600 and up $80 + 7.5 percent of income over $1600 $30 and up

The range of dues payments for members with children is intended to reflect varying circumstances of members (number of children, number of earners in the family, etc.). Those with more children and fewer earners should pay in the lower range, while those with additional earners and fewer children should pay in the higher range.

Any member with particularly difficult financial circumstances or unusually high expenses may negotiate a lower rate of payment with their branch treasurer, or in the case of members at large, with the national treasurer.