MARÍA ELENA DURAZO
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
Maria Elena Durazo was elected to serve as Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO on May 15, 2006. In 2014, she was re-elected to her third term with overwhelming delegate support, affirming her track record of energetic leadership and innovative growth in Los Angeles County’s labor movement.
Through more than 300 local unions, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor represents over 600,000 workers in every key industry, including transportation/goods movement; entertainment/media; services including janitorial and hospitality; education and construction; public sector and retail; health care and communications, to name a few.
The daughter of Mexican immigrant farm workers, Maria Elena learned the importance of hard work and determination at a very young age. As a child, she traveled from Oregon to California with her parents and nine siblings to work in the fields.
In 2010, Maria Elena was elected a Vice President of the national AFL-CIO Executive Council where she serves as the only leader of a local labor movement in the country. She is also the Chair of the National AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee.
In 2013, Maria Elena was elected a Vice Chair for the Democratic National Committee, DNC. She served as a National Co-Chair for President Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Maria Elena also had the great honor of serving as Vice Chair to the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee.
Before leading the L.A. County Federation, Maria Elena was elected as President and built the hotel workers union UNITE-HERE, Local 11, into one of the most active unions in Los Angeles County. Her hard work led her to become the first Latina elected to the Executive Board of HERE International Union in 1996. In 2003, Maria Elena became National Director of the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride, a national mobilization campaign initiated by HERE International to address the nation’s immigration laws. In 2004, she was elected Executive Vice President of UNITE-HERE International.
Maria Elena has served on several Los Angeles City Commissions under mayors Tom Bradley, Richard Riordan, and Antonio Villaraigosa. She is the Chair of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, LAANE. In addition she sits on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board; the Los Angeles Coalition; and United Way.
A resident of Los Angeles, Maria Elena is the mother of two sons, Mario and Michael, grandmother to Seneka and Sydney, and the widow of Miguel Contreras, former Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Maria Elena is a graduate of St. Mary’s College in Moraga and earned a law degree from the People’s College of Law in 1985. She also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees in June 2014.
Maria Elena on the News
- The New York Times acknowledged that “as the executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, she presides over what is widely perceived as the most successful group of unions in the country.”
- Los Angeles Times’ featured stories reporter Joe Mozingo wrote that “Maria Elena Durazo is probably the single most influential individual in Los Angeles politics.”
- CNN’s top news anchor in the Spanish language, Ismael Cala, said on-air that “We are proud that a woman who has had on her life story the opportunity to see from the field the issue of immigrants’ rights has become a voice for so many who cannot raise their own voices.”
- Capitol Weekly named Maria Elena the third most influential non-elected California official in its 2010 Top 100 List.