The American Political Science Association has refused a request from a Los Angeles hotel workers’ union to cancel its upcoming annual meeting there.
“We have heard from hundreds of APSA members who support this demand,” the association said in a statement Friday. “However, given the short time remaining before the meeting, it is not possible to relocate it wholesale.”
The conference starts Aug. 31. Conference hotels face a possible strike that Labor Day weekend.
On its website, APSA said cancellation would cost at least $2.8 million.
“These are penalties for canceling at the hotels that are not amongst the hotels with contract disputes ($450,000), contracts with vendors ($775,000) and refunds for member and exhibitor registration fees ($1.6 million),” the association said. “Additional costs and litigation can be expected.”
APSA’s statement, which mentioned a cancellation’s possible impact on certain scholars, has drawn ire on X (formerly called Twitter). The statement included the line “We feel that in light of the interests of our membership—especially underrepresented scholars, scholars from the Global South and non-tenured scholars—we must maintain the meeting in Los Angeles.”
APSA said cancellation would be a financial hardship for international scholars and may negatively impact future visa requests. It said presenting and networking are crucial to scholars at certain career stages.
On Saturday, the association’s Labor Politics Group said that over 1,000 political scientists and APSA members supported the call to cancel, relocate or move fully online.
“Political scientists may end up in hotels that are subject to labor action and unable to provide essential services—or … they may return to their hotel at the end of the day to find that reaching their room means crossing a picket line,” that group said in a statement. It said it had asked APSA to refund underrepresented and untenured scholars’ registration and membership fees.
On July 19, the union, UNITE HERE Local 11, wrote a letter making the request.
The JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE, where APSA had 468 events scheduled in about 35 meeting rooms over the four-day conference, may be among the strike’s targets, the APSA said. It said it’s working to relocate all of those to the Los Angeles Convention Center and is allowing panels to go online-only if all participants agree.