A University of California-wide workers union demanded that the University of California Regents divest from Blackstone and block the company’s acquisition of Tricon Residential in a press release obtained by the Nexus.

The union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, represents over 30,000 service and patient care workers within the UC and has been established since 1948. 

AFSCME Local 3299 represents over 30,000 service and patient care workers within the UC. Courtesy of Roberto Young

Blackstone is a private equity asset manager and a major shareholder of the University of California (UC), contributing $1 billion in Blackstone Real Estate Trust holdings to the University. The company announced its planned acquisition of real estate firm Tricon Residential in a $3.5 billion deal last month, inciting controversy due to Tricon’s high-income targeted housing plans during Canada’s affordable housing crisis

“Every day, more of our 33,000 members are facing skyrocketing rents, horrifying property management practices and [are] being priced out of the housing market altogether due to the unchecked greed of Wall Street behemoths like Blackstone,” AFSCME 3299 President Michael Avant said in the statement.  

“UC can no longer attract enough staff and has growing numbers of homeless and food insecure students because it is consistently choosing to divert the resources these vulnerable Californians need into investments that only make California’s housing crisis worse.”

The UC’s $4 billion investment into Blackstone in February last year has been historically controversial, with claims of the company worsening the California housing crisis. 

The union condemned contradiction in the UC Regents’ acknowledgment of staff vacancy rates during its Jan. 18 meeting while “fail[ing] to act on calls from students and workers to divest from Blackstone and invest in more affordable housing,” according to the statement. 

“The University currently houses just 38% of its students, although UC campuses are in areas that cost 30% more, on average, than comparable campus communities nationwide,” the statement continued. “Recent news reports have chronicled the struggles of UC’s low wage service and patient care workers being forced to commute several hours or sleep in their cars in order to maintain their employment.”

Avant reiterated the union’s call for the UC to divest from Blackstone in light of the continuing housing crisis. 

“For the UC Board of Regents — including the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Senate Pro-Tempore, and Speaker of the Assembly — this is a time for choosing and a time for action,” Avant said in the statement. “You either stand with Donald Trump and the corporate landlords who are profiting by pricing people out of their homes or you stand for Democracy and with working families and students struggling to realize the American Dream. You simply can’t have it both ways.”   

A version of this article appeared on p. 6 of the Feb. 8, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Asumi Shuda
Asumi Shuda (they/them) is the Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Shuda was the Deputy News Editor, Community Outreach News Editor for the 2022-23 school year and the 2021-22 school year and an Assistant News Editor during the 2020-21 school year. They can be reached at asumishuda@dailynexus.com or news@dailynexus.com.