Party Constitution

Constitution of the Communist Labor Party

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1.1 Ratified – 4/30/17

We find that the continuation of the capitalist system makes the continuation of both humankind and all life on Earth impossible.

Capitalism has its basis in the ever increasing exploitation of both the working class and nature for the express purpose of its own perpetuation and growth. This is unsustainable and unacceptable.

Therefore it is necessary for an enormous project to be undertaken to abolish capitalism. We call this movement to abolish capitalism and all its fetters communism.

In the process of abolishing capitalism and the governments that endorse it, workers must strive to organize themselves into a force which can challenge and overthrow the ruling class of capitalists. This new order will not resemble any currently existing capitalist government, because it will be designed and managed wholly by the working class itself.

To this end, the working class must be organized in such a way that it is wholly independent of capitalist institutions that currently manage society. Workers must develop their own democratic institutions of power in parallel to existing capitalist institutions, both to subvert and to replace those institutions which dominate the working class.

To aid the whole working class of the United States towards becoming economically and politically independent of the capitalist class and their institutions, a political organization of workers in this country must be organized to this end.

We welcome workers everywhere to join together into this organization, based on the ideas here laid out and organized according to this CONSTITUTION:

Article 1: Name

The name of the party shall be: “The Communist Labor Party.”

The Official Logo and Icon shall be: A gear, with the “Solidarity Fist” centered within the gear. A Star centered above. Image in a golden or brightly hued yellow, on a red background, or other color scheme as appropriate for solidarity work.

Article 2: Membership

Section 1: Eligibility

1. Eligibility is not a guarantee of acceptance into a chapter or the party. All people over the age of 18 are eligible to apply for membership except the following, who are not eligible for CLP membership:

a. Anyone who has been previously ejected from the party;

b. Anyone who is a known agent provocateur;

c. Any employee or agent of a law enforcement agency;

d. Anyone who subsists on profits from landlording, business income from employees, or stock ownership (excluding retirement pensions).

Section 2: Application

1. Individuals: A petition for membership shall be made to the Chapter to which the applicant would belong based on their geographic area. That Chapter shall accept or reject the application for membership. An applicant may appeal a denied application to the Congress. Chapters are encouraged to involve potential members in the work of the Chapter before accepting an application for membership.

2. New Chapters: If there is no active Chapter in the geographic area feasible for participation, an eligible candidate may start a new chapter in coordination with the Executive Board. A prospective new Chapter petitions the Congress for entry into the Party together as a unity, once minimum requirements are met.

Section 3: Membership Requirements & Good Standing

1. The CLP was formed with the specific intention of building Dual Power institutions. Members are expected to behave professionally and ethically when conducting this work.

2. Good Standing is a baseline expectation of conduct for all members. A member is in Good Standing when they:

a. Participate in work of the party and pay dues, either through a Chapter or through Party-sanctioned organizing outside the jurisdiction of a Chapter;

b. Adhere to the Points of Unity;

c. Do not willfully engage in oppressive behaviors or unacceptable conduct and correct such behaviors if they occur;

d. Do not claim to speak for the Party without prior democratic authorization or otherwise violate Party discipline;

e. Handle Party assets responsibly;

f. Do not collaborate with law enforcement or fascists.

3. Unacceptable Conduct. The Party’s commitment to maintaining a safe and accessible space for political work is a fundamental mandate. As such, gender violence, harassment, interpersonal violence, and oppressive behaviors will not be tolerated. Single offenses may be corrected at the discretion of the body of Party affected; members unwilling to change their behavior shall be ejected from the Party.

4. Oppressive Behaviors. A behavior shall be considered oppressive if it prevents, inhibits, hinders, or unnecessarily complicates, the fair and full participation of any individuals or oppressed demographic in the political or internal life of the Party.

5. Loss of Good Standing. Members who lose Good Standing shall be contacted by an officer of their Chapter to discuss how to regain Good Standing. If the member cannot be brought into Good Standing, the situation may be reviewed by a higher body of the party and / or the member may be ejected. Ejection from the Party may be appealed to the Congress.

Section 4: Points of Unity

1. Every member must agree to:

a. Support a Dual Power strategy for socialist revolution.

b. Fight against privilege and oppressive behavior within the working class; because white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, and others are weaponized elements of the capitalist division of labor, and only serve to benefit the ruling class.

c. Work against the capitalist state (which only serves to administer ruling-class power), even if holding a government office.

d. Advocate for the reorganization of the economy for human need, under a democratic, ecological, and scientific plan, rather than capital accumulation.

e. Support participatory-democratic self-government in all spheres of collective economic and social life.

f. Oppose all US militarism and economic imperialism.

Section 5: Party Discipline

1. All members in Good Standing shall participate in the Party’s internal political life through debate, discussion, and voting to the best of their physical and mental ability.

2. When a Party body arrives at a decision, the members of that body shall carry it out unless doing so clearly violates the Points of Unity or Good Standing requirements.

a. Public or private disagreement with or criticism of the Party, its decisions, and its leadership does not violate this requirement.

Section 6: Discipline and Complaint Procedures

1. Conflict. Chapters are encouraged to resolve conflict and complaints internally if possible. This is not meant to discourage people seeking advice or help from a higher body of the Party. However, each Chapter should ideally have, or work towards gaining, the communication and interpersonal skills that would make them self-sufficient. Members are encouraged to reach out to their Chapter leadership with any concerns and complaints. Chapter leadership, once aware of a complaint, shall work with the aggrieved member to find an appropriate response and solution.

2. Formal Conflict or Complaint Procedures. In the event that informal resolution is ineffective or inappropriate, the Aggrieved-Member may ask that the issue be resolved formally. In this case, the Arbiter shall be contacted to: (1) investigate the complaint and (2) resolve the issue or make a dispositive recommendation. The Arbiter is expected to work with the Aggrieved Member to find an appropriate resolution, which could include mediation between parties or behavior change requirements. If no resolution found by the Arbiter is effective, the Arbiter may make a recommendation to eject the accused member. Congress shall approve or deny this recommendation.

3. The Arbiter has a duty to investigate each complaint made to them, including speaking with both accuser and accused. A member may not be ejected without investigation, or on the basis of word-of-mouth or gossip alone. If the Arbiter is the accused, then a provisional Arbiter shall be appointed by the Board with the approval of the aggrieved member. If the accused member holds a leadership position (including within the Congress, the Executive Board, or a Chapter or Caucus’s officer structure), then the Arbiter shall form an investigative committee to review the situation and accusation.

4. If such a committee is formed, it shall contain:

a. Consist of at least (3) three members in Good Standing; b. Be approved by the Arbitrator;

c. Be approved by the aggrieved member;

d. Not consist of any close associates of the accused member.

5. In the event that a member is or feels unsafe bringing an accusation or complaint (for instance, if shame is being used as a weapon to silence), special arbitration to protect the aggrieved may be conducted, appropriate to the complaint and the swift correction of misconduct.

Section 7: Dues

1. All members are expected to pay dues to be determined by the Chapter (A. 3 S. 1) they belong to, or by the Congress (A. 3 S. 6).

2. No member shall be asked to pay more than they can afford.

3. Party bodies may request assessments from their membership earmarked for specific projects.

4. The treasurers of party bodies will accept sustaining donations from members whose financial means enable them to contribute more resources than required dues.

Article 3: Structure

Section 1: Generally

1. The CLP has four (4) party bodies: Chapter, Caucus, Congress and Executive board. Additional party bodies may be created as needed to fulfill a specific need.

2. Members are organized into Chapters, generally based out of a city. A chapter is generally autonomous and picks its own projects. We do not tell comrades what is right for their area and ability; we understand those on the ground are usually the best judges of what work is needed.

3. Next, there are Caucuses. A caucus is a group of members formed around an oppressed identity and not geographically. A caucus chooses its missions and rules for membership, and sends one representative to the Congress. This ensures representation of minority and oppressed groups in our decision making body.

4. The governing bodies are the Executive Board and the Congress. The Executive Board oversees the administrative work of the party (coordinating, disseminating information, nation-wide projects). The Congress sets the policy of the party (votes to admit chapters, oversees disciplinary procedures, sets goals and political stances). The separation of administration from control is purposeful to keep a systemic check and balance of forces.

Section 2: Records

Each body of the Party must keep a record of the following distinct areas of record/work:

1. Money collected and spent, in the form of a financial report recording dues and donations, and spending as it would be reported to the membership of the body;

2. Meeting Minutes, showing attendance, and motions passed or failed, Party involvement in community organizations or political movements;

3. Membership, the admission, resignation, or ejection of any members.

Section 3: Chapters

1. A chapter shall consist of at least three (3) members who are able to meet regularly and engage in the work of the party. A Chapter should include as many members as practical and functional, and Chapters should be split only as necessary. Each chapter shall also fulfill the following requirements:

a. Actively keep records according to Section 2;

b. Submit all records specified in Section 2 to the Executive Board.

c. Engage in action as directed by itself or as advised by the Congress.

2. Record requirements are traditionally filled by officers but Chapters are free to make their own organizational system as long as the requirements are met. A Chapter may identify itself by another moniker (club, branch, etc.) as it chooses but shall be handled internally by the Party as a Chapter.

Section 4: Party Congress

1. Purpose. The Party Congress shall be composed of Chapter and At-large Representatives, set Party policy between Conventions, and oversee the work of the Executive Board. The Party Congress shall review all of the activities of the Executive Board and is authorized to overturn any decision the Board has made or halt any activity the Board has initiated if it finds it necessary to do so.

2. Elections. Each Full Chapter shall elect one (1) of their members to represent them in the Congress, and a number of additional At-large Representatives shall be elected by the whole Party membership at, or immediately following, Conventions. Each Convention shall determine the number of At-large representatives to be elected, taking the quantity, geographic distribution, and demographics of the Party’s membership at that time into consideration and the rules for voting shall be determined at the same Convention.

3. Recall. Chapter Representatives are subject to immediate recall at any time by the membership of their Chapter and shall be elected on a schedule set by their Chapter. To recall an At-large Representative, the Executive Board must receive a petition signed by at least ten (10) Full Members of the Party demanding so. The Board shall promptly hold a Party-wide referendum on the Representative’s recall, allowing the whole membership time to first become aware of the facts of the situation. If the referendum passes, a second referendum shall be immediately held to elect a different member to that seat in the Congress.

4. Meetings. The Party Congress shall meet quarterly, or more frequently if necessary, to conduct all of its business. Meetings, when reasonable, should take place in person, with measures expended to include Representatives who cannot attend the meeting in person. The Party Congress shall take minutes of each of their meetings and compile them into a report after each meeting and publish it for Party members and only party members to review at their leisure. A meeting of the Congress shall be considered valid if it is attended by a quorum 2/3rds of its members rounded up to a whole person.

Section 5: Executive Board

1. Purpose. The Party shall elect an Executive Board composed of five (5) Party members at each Convention. The Executive Board is responsible for providing oversight to every Chapter and major Party project.

2. General Requirements. The Executive Board shall meet frequently via teleconference or in person, as appropriate, to accomplish its duties. The Executive Board is obligated to enact and administer policies set by the Party Congress, unless a given policy obligates a different body to do so.

3. Roles & Committees. The Executive Board shall divide roles and responsibilities between each Board member as it is necessary to do so. The Executive Board is also entitled to appoint individual Party members to complete certain tasks, oversee projects, or to engage in other pertinent organizational work. The Board may appoint committees for the same purpose.

4. Elections. At Convention, members shall vote to elect a new Executive Board. The five candidates with the most votes shall be elected to the Executive Board. Each voting member may vote up to five times in the election of Board members, but may not vote for the same candidate more than once.

a. Tied Votes. If two or more candidates tie in the number of votes for fifth place in the election, a second round of voting, including only the tied candidates, shall be held to break the tie, and each voting member shall vote only once.

b. Recall. An Executive Board member may be recalled if the Board receives a petition signed by at least ten (10) Full Members of the Party demanding so, and promptly holds a Party-wide referendum to vote on the recall, allowing the whole membership time to first become aware of the facts of the situation. The petition may alternatively be submitted to the Party Congress and the Congress shall be obligated to instruct the Executive Board to act on it, or to appoint a special committee to officially organize the referendum in place of the Executive Board.

c. Vacancy. If a seat on the Executive Board should become vacant for any reason between Conventions, the Party Congress shall appoint a member to sit on the Board.

d. Separation. No Executive Board member may concurrently serve as a Representative in the Party Congress, but Executive Board members may be present and speak at Congress meetings unless the Party Congress rules otherwise.

5. Chair. The Executive Board candidate with the most votes shall be named the Chair of the Executive Board. If they decline to hold that position, the five winning candidates shall meet and appoint another of their number to the office of Chair. The Chair is responsible for calling Executive Board meetings and maintaining records and accounts managed by the Board, or delegating another member for that task.

6. Provisional Congress Planning Committee. Immediately following Convention, the Executive Board shall appoint three (3) Congress Representatives to plan the next Party Congress meeting if no other plan for the next Congress meeting is in place.

Section 6: Additional Party Bodies

1. There will be times where an organizational need cannot be met by existing bodies of the Party. In such an event, Congress may elect to form a special Party body to fulfill that need. These bodies are formed by a vote of the Congress and have several unique characteristics. Examples include: Regions (for regional coordination); Operations (organize a party-wide campaign); Commissions (investigate / research specific topic).

2. Any new party body will:

a. Serve at the pleasure of the Congress.

b. Have no minimum membership requirements;

c. Must file reports to the Board and Congress and to all membership and membership bodies it affects, according to the provisions of Section 2.

3. To elect to form an additional party body, the Congress must:

a. Explicitly establish a purpose or need to be fulfilled, and a mandate (orders to follow a plan to fulfill that need);

b. Specifically state a time line for completion or to be renewed by the Convention;

Section 7: Convention of the Whole

1. Purpose. Periodically the Congress shall hold a Convention, an in-person meeting, open to all party members in Good Standing.

2. Requirements. Unless it is an Emergency Convention (see below), each convention must:

a. Be called at least once every four years;

b. Elect an Executive Board.

c. The Congress shall develop or adopt rules of order, and voting powers guidelines to maximize the democratic nature of the Convention, prior to the next convention.

3. Emergency Convention. A Convention can also be called by a petition to the Congress and a 2/3rds vote in favor by Members in Good Standing. An emergency convention is a mechanism for comrades who feel there has been a serious procedural or political misstep in the party. Conventions may be telephonic or in-person at the discretion of the Membership as a whole.

Section 8: Arbiter

1. A party member not on the Executive Board shall be elected at each convention to the position of Arbiter.

2. Should the Arbiter be recalled, the Party Congress shall select another party member to serve as Arbiter.

Section 9: Hierarchy of Powers

The various bodies of the party shall have power in ascending order:

Chapter Officers;

The Chapter;

The Executive Board;

The Congress of Chapters and Caucuses;

The General Membership through the Convention.

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